Greater Cincinnati Water Works

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Becca Costello / WVXU

Cincinnati officials are proposing a 3.75% increase to water rates next year, and an annual 5.55% increase for four years starting in 2023.

Courtesy of Greater Cincinnati Water Works

If you've noticed a lot of work going on lately in Cincinnati on fire hydrants, there's no cause for concern.

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As parts of the Tri-State begin to reopen in the coming days and weeks, the Northern Kentucky Water District and Greater Cincinnati Water Works are issuing a word of caution: Buildings closed for more than a week should flush their pipes before people return.

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The Greater Cincinnati Water Works is starting two projects Monday to repair leaks.

fire hydrant
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Cincinnati is developing a plan to test the water flow of more than 14,000 fire hydrants in the city. It comes after a house fire on Rose Hill Avenue in North Avondale in November where firefighting efforts were hampered by low flow from hydrants on the street.

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Greater Cincinnati Water Works has a back-up plan in case of disaster. In fact, the water district has several redundancies either ready to go or are nearing completion.

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After months of feuding over a plan to raise water rates for certain county communities, townships and unincorporated areas, Cincinnati and Hamilton County say they have a deal.

drinking water
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The Metropolitan Sewer District will begin accepting applications for a newly approved Customer Assistance Program (CAP). The CAP offers a 25% discount to low-income senior citizens who meet certain criteria.

The iconic Mt. Airy water tanks are a City Council vote away from being an historic landmark.  

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A Hamilton County Judge is, for now, blocking Cincinnati from raising water rates in unincorporated parts of Hamilton County.  

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Hamilton County has gone to court over a plan to raise water rates in unincorporated communities. Commissioners asked for a temporary restraining order to block Cincinnati Water Works from raising rates until a task force can finish a study.

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Hamilton County commissioners say they'll continue to press Cincinnati leaders to relent on a plan to increase water rates for certain county communities, townships and unincorporated areas.

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There's a new fight brewing between Cincinnati and Hamilton County. The two governments have battled over control of the Metropolitan Sewer District for years, and the latest argument is from the other end: water.

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It has been discussed for years, and starting in January Greater Cincinnati Water Works customers will get their bills monthly instead of quarterly.

Water Works Director Cathy Bailey said elected officials and customers have been asking for the change for years.

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Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) Director Cathy Bernardino Bailey started her career at the Water Works in 1992 as a chemist. She is now responsible for more than 600 full-time staff and an operational budget of approximately $32 million.

Officials with Cincinnati Water Works are gearing up for a 15-year project to replace remaining lead service lines in the city.  

City council approved the plan in October and work will begin in May.  

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Greater Cincinnati Water Works wants to change the way it's replacing lead service lines to some homes and businesses in the city.

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The Greater Cincinnati Water Works has sent out 1,543 test kits so residents can check the lead level in their drinking water. So far, 853 have been analyzed and 21 properties have levels that are concerning.  

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The Greater Cincinnati Water Works recently sent letters to more than 16,000 property owners letting them know their homes and businesses may be getting water through a lead service line.  

Jeff Swertfeger with Water Works says the city is replacing lines when doing other work.

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Cincinnati officials estimate that some 16,000 private properties are still getting water through lead lined pipes.  

The city will soon be notifying those owners in writing about the issue. Council approved a motion Wednesday for such notifications.  

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A harmful blue-green algae bloom is still plaguing the Ohio River, and a Kentucky biologist says it doesn't look like that will change soon. 

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When Cincinnati Council approves the city budget next week, it most likely will include a five percent water rate increase.

Greater Cincinnati Water Works Director Tony Parrott the five percent increase is the bare minimum amount needed to keep up the system.

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Hamilton County commissioners are downplaying Cincinnati city manager Harry Black's announcement that Greater Cincinnati Water Works will no longer share certain administrative functions with the Metropolitan Sewer District. 

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Cincinnati’s city manager has announced the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) and the Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) will no longer share administrative services.

Sarah Ramsey

So far the city is saving money by merging the administrative functions of the Greater Cincinnati Water Works, the Metropolitan Sewer District and the stormwater utility.  

A council committee got an update Tuesday.  

The savings right now is projected to be $55 million during the next decade.  That is less than the initial feasibility study suggested, but officials are still crunching the numbers.  

Director Tony Parrott said so far, so good.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Greater Cincinnati Water Works is getting a pat on the back from the head of the Ohio EPA.

During a tour of the Richard Miller Treatment Plant, EPA Director Craig Butler lauded the facility's work and quick response to emergencies like the recent fuel spill on the Ohio River.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Water is a big topic these days. There's a scarcity of it out West. Algae blooms shut down Toledo's drinking water system earlier this month, and Cincinnati remains on the leading edge of water technology. But those are all obvious. We see or hear about them frequently.  WVXU went looking behind-the-scenes at a hidden aspect of our water delivery system - something thousands of Cincinnatians pass each day but never truly see.

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Last week Cincinnati Council members could not agree on whether to raise city water rates.  They will try again during a public hearing Monday.
 

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Rain barrels decorated by students and artists from around the Tristate are on display at the Cincinnati Zoo. The 2nd annual Rain Barrel Art Project sponsored by Save Local Waters is part of a push to raise awareness about environmental education and, of course, to get more people to capture rain water to reduce water usage.

Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) plans to reopen its water intakes along the Ohio River Thursday at 2 p.m. The utility reports water samples indicate the chemical from the Elk River spill in West Virginia has passed through the area.

“Our water quality team has not detected the chemical in the Ohio River water since 4:00 a.m. this morning,” said Tony Parrott, Executive Director of Greater Cincinnati Water Works and the Metropolitan Sewer District.

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