More than 300 people are expected to attend an Aug. 20 public hearing on a rate increase sought by Ohio American Water.

More than 300 people are expected to attend an Aug. 20 public hearing on a rate increase sought by Ohio American Water.

According to Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) public information specialist Anthony Dill, the OAW request would raise overall rates for residential water customers in Franklin and Portage counties by 30 percent and by 12 percent for all of its other residential customers.

The latest request comes little more than a year after the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) agreed March 7, 2007 to a 14-percent rate increase for Ohio American Water customers in Franklin and Portage counties.

The public hearing will start at 6 p.m. Aug. 20 at Faith Covenant Church, 3607 Dempsey Road.

The OCC has filed several objections with the PUCO related to Ohio American Water expenses, revenues, profits, service quality and rate structure as proposed in the company's request, Dill said.

He added that the Ohio Consumers' Counsel expects that the PUCO will act on the request after the public hearings in August.

"I would say that shortly afterward, there will be a decision, at least in regards to the new proposed increase," Dill said.

He said the OCC offers help to local residents who would be affected by a water rate increase.

"We've been working with customers since the last rate case, continuing to keep tabs on the water quality, and have been staying in contact with and encouraging them to write letters to the PUCO explaining how this would affect them," Dill said.

And write they have. At least 125 letters have been recorded on the docket for PUCO case number 07-1112-WF-AIR, according to Huber Ridge Area Association president James Welch. About 600 signatures have also been added to a petition opposing the increase, Welch added.

"We're looking at one-third of our bill being increased and we're already paying more than the surrounding area," he said. "Since the last rate increase, the water quality has gotten a little better, but it's far from being perfect. It's like paying for gold and getting coal."

Welch said discolored water can still be found in Huber Ridge.

"A lot of residents buy bottled water at an additional cost to cook with," he said. "The biggest problem I see now is when you're drawing bath water, you'll still see floaters."

Ohio American Water said in its request for an increase that the company's present rates do not provide adequate compensation for water service furnished and do not provide a "just and reasonable return on Ohio American's property used in furnishing water service."

A needs assessment from Edward Grubb, the company's manager of rates and regulation, says Ohio American Water has experienced decreases in revenue and increases in its operating and maintenance expenses and rate base since Dec. 31, 2005.

"Since the last test year, revenues have decreased from the level authorized by $281,000," he said in documents filed with the rate increase request. "Operation and maintenance expenses have increased for labor, benefits and support services by $593,000. Production costs have increased by $338,000, insurance costs have increased by $281,000, regulatory and customer accounting costs have increased by $495,000 and increases in the remaining O&M expenses have also occurred."

All documents pertaining to the case that have been filed with PUCO can be viewed online at under case number 07-1112-WF-AIR.