Water rate hike will have major impact on businesses - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Water rate hike will have major impact on businesses

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Laundromat Laundromat

New Orleans, La. - Sherif Sakla opened a laundromat on Maple nearly ten years ago.

"I thought it was a money making venture," he says. "I was wrong."

Sakla says there's no profit anymore. He spends as much on utilities and repairs as he makes from the machines.

Those added costs get passed on to customers.

"It used to be $1.50," says Sakla. "Now it's close to $3. It's doubled in the last five years and that is not even keeping up with the energy bill and the maintenance costs and the rent."

The price to wash a load of clothes will soon go up even more.

New Orleans city council members approved a major sewer and water rate hike Thursday.

Customers will see their bills increase by 10% every year for the next eight years, nearly doubling by 2020.

"Obviously, we're very concerned about the elderly and those individuals on a fixed income and we're going to be looking at additional measures that we can take to take care of that population group," says Ray Manning, President Pro-Tem of the Sewerage and Water Board. Other than that, I would say these are very difficult decisions and we believe that we've made the right decision today."

Manning says nearly a third of the money generated by the rate hike will go to capital improvements. Up to 40% of the water in the system leaks out everyday, costing the city $13 million a year.

"It is just a matter of when," says Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "The longer you wait, the more extensive, the more expensive it's going to be and the more at risk you will remain and on top of that. as we rebuild the city of New Orleans, we cannot rebuild a city on a wet foundation that has no stability, in other words, the pipes are the thing."

Entire streets will be replaced in some areas where erosion has pitted the pavement.

The S&WB says the work will begin in the next six months.

The rate hikes kick in January 1st.

For Sakla, next year could be his last in the laundry business.

"We are now operating at bare bones," he says. "So with that hike, we might be telling the city thank you, but no thanks."

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