Canal Winchester's three water towers will get much-needed inspection and maintenance over the next decade at a cheaper cost after City Council approved a new contract with a Georgia-based company.

The agreement with Utility Service Co. Inc., approved during council's Aug. 5 meeting, totals $58,521 to maintain the tanks located near Ashbrook Village and North and South Gender roads. The current 10-year agreement was for $77,000.

All three tanks, which hold approximately 1.4 million gallons, have been painted in the past 10 years; however, the two tanks along North and South Gender roads are due for a new coat of paint, according to water department superintendent Joe Taylor.

The oldest tower on North Gender Road dates to about 1970.

Maintenance includes "wash outs" every three years, which involves draining the tank and cleaning to ensure water quality, Taylor said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends washouts every five years.

The city's approximately 2,800 residential and business customers pay $6.33 for each 1,000 gallons of water used and $5.88 for each 1,000 gallons of sewer service.

A new schedule approved by council last fall will bump water rates to $6.46 per 1,000 gallons beginning in 2021 and $6.59 in 2022. Sewer rates will increase to $6 and $6.12 per 1,000 gallons in those years, respectively.

The city last year rolled out a multiyear water-meter-reading project, which is designed to phase out old equipment and deliver new technologies involving a radio-read system.