A public hearing Monday night regarding a proposed water-rate hike recorded much opposition. That's not surprising; the requested 22 percent increase sounds like a lot.
And it can be; that's roughly the increase in gasoline prices from last winter to this winter.
But Ohio American Water Co. is asking to boost its monthly customer charge from $9.51 to $11.50. That's less than $2 per month, less than 50 cents a week, less than 7 cents a day.
A useful question to ask is what buyers are getting for your money with the price increase. With gasoline, the answer is simple: a gallon of gas.
What water company customers in Tiffin would get in exchange for higher cost is less obvious. The utility needs to better explain why higher rates are needed.
Ohio American Water has said the chief reasons for seeking the increase involve increased costs related to water infrastructure investments; property taxes and depreciation; not earning a return on new plant additions; reduced sales because of fewer customers; and decreased usage among current customers.
Obviously, raising prices isn't going to attract more customers or compel remaining ones to use more water.
But is the increase needed to replace aging water lines in Tiffin and other communities served by Ohio American? What could happen without the increase? What would be done with the extra revenue?
The rate hike filing quotes U.S. EPA as stating the nation's water utilities will need to make more than $355 billion in infrastructure investments over the next 20 years to replace thousands of miles of pipe and for upgrades to treatment plants, storage tanks and other assets to ensure public health.
Ohio American could do itself a favor and explain the age of its water pipes and how many feet - or miles - of those lines would be replaced with revenue from the rate increase.