City manager Mike Melton announced at the Feb. 5 Richmond Hill City Council meeting that residential water bills may increase after August due to a new state Environmental Protection Division ruling.
Melton said the EPD informed him on Feb. 4 that it is cutting back the allowed amount of water the city can draw from the upper Floridan aquifer. He also said the EPD has attached 23 new restrictions to its groundwater use permits which the city must follow, one being a "conservation-based rate structure" which entails raising rates as an incentive for residents to use less water.
Melton said the permit is effective immediately, but the rate structure is due in August and will be reviewed by council before being put in place.
"These restrictions create a lot more questions than answers," said Melton, who was visibly frustrated with the EPD’s ruling. "We’re inevitably going to have to change the rates. This is going to be costly."
See more of this story in Saturday's Bryan County News.