EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – The City of Evansville thinks it has an answer for people who say they cannot afford upcoming water rate increases. The Evansville Utility Board has approved a plan to use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to help pay the bills for certain customers. The rate hikes are being used to fund the new water filtration facility just off of Waterworks Road.

“Our current plant was built in 1897,” explains Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, “So the fact that we need a new one is not lost on most people. But we also understand that financing a project of that magnitude is significant. So we think that this is one small way we can help our rate payers.”

“Part of that meant raising rates to do that, to get the funding,” adds EWSU Executive Director Lane Young. “So we’re out there looking, saying what kind of impact is that going to have on our community, on our rate payers.”

The impact, according to Young, is to use $4 million in ARPA funds. Eligible customers will receive a monthly credit of $3 to offset the hike. To qualify for the monthly credit, customers need an annual household income of $50,000 or less. In addition to the credit, Young says additional funds will be set aside for customers facing utility shutoffs.

“Right now, we fund right about $50,000 to $70,000 a year in assistance,” says Young. “This could add $600,000 a year or more to that bucket to really help that group.”

The assistance program is set to run for two years, with customers able to reapply after 12 months. Young encourages all EWSU customers to apply, regardless of if you believe you are eligible. More information regarding the program can be found on the EWSU website.