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Butte customers may be faced with water rate hikes

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BUTTE, Mont. - Butte water customers could be faced with a massive rate hike beginning this year.

The Butte Public Works Department says the city has three water treatment plants that are expensive to run. Increased operating costs impact people's water bills.

Jim Fisher, the Butte district six commissioner, says the city needs to be more efficient, rather than raising water rates.

Butte Public Works Director Dave Schultz says there is not much that can be done. The city's old infrastructure and three treatment plants make it difficult to decrease water rates.

Butte gets its water from the Big Hole River, the Moulton Reservoir and the Basin Creek Reservoirs.

Schultz says it is difficult to keep down rates because Butte does not have one treatment plant for the whole city, like Billings.

Longtime Butte resident Don Griffin is thankful that he gets his water from a meter.

"If I wasn't on the meter I'd probably be paying triple a month than what I'm paying now, about $70 bucks a month versus the $26," Griffin said.

Butte Public Works is proposing a series of increases over the next three years.

The first increase will be 20 percent this year, effective Oct. 1. The next two increases will be 10 percent, effective after July 1 in 2018 and 2019.

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