By Ronda Cowen
News Star Reporter
Water and sewer rates will be going up in Stratford after a rate study revealed the Town of Stratford wasn’t charging enough for those services.
The Oklahoma Rural Water Association (ORWA) at the direction of Randy Clark, ORWA representative, recently performed a rate study in the Town of Stratford.
This study was able to confirm what has been suspected for some time.
“Stratford’s rates are some of the lowest in the area and must be increased to ensure long term sustainability for Stratford’s water and waste water system,” Clark told the Town Board recently.
Clark added, “The systems are losing money each month. If rate changes aren’t made soon, Stratford Public Works Authority may not be able to continue to offer quality water and waste water services in the future.”
The proposed rate increase from ORWA, was presented to the Town Board during a recent meeting. After much thought and consideration, the board decided to accept the recommendation of ORWA in order to continue to provide quality service to Stratford Citizens.
The Stratford Town Board did not take the decision lightly, according to Town Administrator Shannon Tice.
“The Town Board members have always had a love for this community and a goal to make the it better and address the tough issues to increase the quality of life for Stratford’s citizens,” said Tice.
“By addressing this issue, they are acting in a very progressive and proactive manner to make sure the Town of Stratford is here for many more generations to come.”
The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently issued a Notice of Violation due to the amount of total suspended solids (TSS) and biological oxygen demand (BOD) located within the wastewater (lagoon) system.
Stratford is currently applying for a grant to update the lagoon system. Increasing the water and waste rates will make it more likely for the town to receive this grant as well as future grants.
“Stratford PWA is striving to be compliant with all DEQ regulations, be environmentally friendly, and operate at an optimum level for a longer period of time,” said Tice.
The increase has also allowed the town to make tentative capital improvement plans, which include replacing current water lines that have reached their usefulness as well as implementing a water meter replacement plan to be completed by 2024.
The plans would also include the installation of new water valves in key areas of the town, enabling the isolation of a small section without the need to shut down the entire town’s water supply, in the case of an emergency leak.
New Murphy Switches were recently installed at the Stratford’s water supply wells.
According to Public Works Authority Department Head Sam Lambert, “By being proactive and installing the new Murphy Switches, the amount of water leaks in our system has decreased by over eighty percent.
“That installation also prevented water pressure surges which can cause older lines to fail,” said Lambert.
“We plan to continue moving forward with more system upgrades to make sure Stratford is a safe and productive place to live, raise a family and hopefully attract new businesses and retailers.”
The new rates will go into effect on April 1st, 2018.