Robbins is making changes and updates to its water infrastructure program. In its “Investing FORWARD” campaign, The Town of Robbins will be working to ensure that the water services are
1. Fresh and clean;
2. the public services division is Operationally efficient,
3. customer billing and services are Reliable;
4. The lines are Well-maintained;
5. customers are Accountable for the water consumed and employees are accountable for following utility policy;
6. town employees are Responsive to water leaks and customer complaints;
7. decisions on updates and upgrades are done with the idea of Developing opportunity for current and future residents and businesses.
After several industrial water and sewer users ceased operations in Robbins, the town found itself in a difficult situation. With less water users, the town saw a decrease in revenues which made it difficult to cover operational and maintenance expenses in addition to paying back loans for previous infrastructure investment. As a result, Robbins has had to make many tough decisions throughout the years which included shutting down its water treatment plant as a cost saving measure. Robbins turned its “Emergency Line” from Montgomery County into its primary water source. Under this arrangement, Robbins purchases water from Montgomery County at a bulk rate and sells to its 647 customers.
Robbins currently has comparatively inexpensive water rates that were set in 2013. Needed maintenance on parts of the system were delayed as leaders pursued alternative funding. This had the benefit of postponing water and rate increases to customers. However, maintenance needs have increased, and so has the costs for repair and maintenance. Additionally, Robbins has seen a change in
the water quality it receives from Montgomery County which requires Robbins to provide additional flushing of the water lines. As they increase water flushing, they also increase the amount of water that Robbins must purchase thereby increasing the total cost of the water system.
To ensure that the enterprise system is self-supporting, and no longer operates at a deficit or subsidized by tax dollars, water rates have increased 20%. While rate studies show that the actual rate should be substantially higher, town leaders are working on additional ways to decrease costs and better capture revenue including updating water meters and upgrading billing software.
In May, Robbins purchased over 200 new radio-read meters that will be installed incrementally throughout the Summer and Fall months. These meters will replace meters that are over 20 years old. The use of radio-read meters will significantly reduce the staff time required to collect meter readings, and will also better capture customer water usage. The town will also be working to optimize meter reading routes to make the process more operationally efficient. Robbins is continuing to negotiate with Montgomery County to address water quality improvement opportunities.
Robbins has nearly completed an asset inventory assessment and hydraulic model of their water system, and will use this to inform infrastructure improvements. Last year, Robbins was awarded a Community Development Block Grant designed to improve water quality throughout the town. Work on this will likely begin in 2018.
As the town undergoes all aspects of the infrastructure improvement program, they will be guided by the
principals laid out in their “Investing FORWARD Campaign.” Town Management sees this as an
opportunity to communicate better with citizens, provide better services and quality, and ensure
financial stability of the enterprise system.