CLARKSVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- People who live in Clarksville, Indiana may soon suffer sticker shock when they open their sewer bills. Rates may go up more than 70 percent this fall.

Clarksville's sewage treatment system is more than 30 years old and has a distinct odor about it. That's part of the reason why the town is having to spend millions on an upgrade.

"The issues are mainly age with this plant," said Wastewater Project Coordinator Brittany Montgomery.

And the smell is just part of the problem. The real crisis came when the line that discharges treated wastewater into the Ohio River collapsed.

"We looked at the options and determined it was not feasible to put that line back because it goes through state park property, archaeological areas," said Montgomery.

Instead, Clarksville officials want to empty the treated water into nearby Mill Creek. It's much smaller than the Ohio and that means much stricter treatment standards.  That means the town must borrow $29 million to rebuild the plant.

"When this plant was built, we had 80 percent matching federal dollars to help with the cost. Today, the federal government doesn't supply that match. It comes back on the community itself, so we're bearing 100% of that cost," said Town Council member John Gilkey.

For the average single family home, rates will rise from around $28 a month to around $50.

Bill Oates lives on a fixed income and says the increase will be a big hit to his budget.  "I live off my retirement and that takes away from my money. I don't like it at all. I like improving, but I don't like to have to pay a higher sewer bill at all," said Oates.

Town officials say they explored other options and this was the least expensive.

They say the rebuild will also give Clarksville more sewer capacity for future growth.  "We want to keep Clarksville growing as much as we can. This is a step we have to take to make that happen. And we're doing what we can to control the costs and keep it as low as possible," said Gilkey.

A public hearing is scheduled for August 5, right before the town council takes its final vote.

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