The publicity train continues to roll, as several central Ohio townships voice opposition to a proposed water rate increase from Ohio American Water (OAW).

The publicity train continues to roll, as several central Ohio townships voice opposition to a proposed water rate increase from Ohio American Water (OAW).

A rally in support of the campaign against the rate hike is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30, at the Prairie Township Fire Station, 451 Hubbard Road. Norwich Township will host the event.

Prairie Township trustee Steve Kennedy, who has been leading a grass roots campaign to inform residents who receive water from OAW about the requested increase, said people have started to hear the message.

"We've been starting to hear a little bit from the residents, and our Web site has been getting our scheduled events out there," Kennedy said.

In June, OAW filed a request with PUCO (Public Utilities Commission of Ohio) to increase rates for all of its residential customers in Ohio over a four-year period as follows: 24.63 percent increase in April 2010; 22.30 percent increase in April 2011; 6.82 percent increase in April 2012 and 5.77 percent increase in 2013.

Kennedy said this represents OAW's third rate increase request in four years. If granted, he said, it will result in approximate increases of 240 percent in water rates and 300 percent in sewer rates since 1999.

To oppose the increase, which township leaders call unfair, representatives of Norwich, Prairie, Blendon, Madison, Sharon and Truro townships have been working to inform residents of the rate request's details, according to Kennedy.

The group kicked off its public relations campaign with a meeting in Blendon Township in August, which was attended by representatives of the Ohio Consumers Counsel, as well as state Reps. Nancy Garland (D-Albany) and Marian Harris (D-Columbus). Another event was held last week in Ridgewood Park.

"We heard some positive things from the representatives, and there is potentially some legislation that may be introduced (pertaining to the case)," Kennedy said.

The rate increase is needed to recover investments in recent years, according to OAW. That includes more than $1.7-million for pipes, pumps and other improvements in its Franklin County systems and more than $17-million statewide since July 2007.