BR.newwaterwoes.042619.jpg (copy)

An above-ground water storage tower, as seen Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, that supplies the  Parish Utilities of Ascension water system that serves the city of Donaldsonville. The system was overwhelmed by high demand during a cold snap in January 2018, but parish officials say they have made progress improving the system and are seeking a rate increase for future upgrades.

DONALDSONVILLE — A public meeting on a proposed 39% rate increase for the city's water system is scheduled 6 p.m. Tuesday in Donaldsonville.

The public meeting at the Parish Courthouse, 300 Houmas St., comes ahead of a final Parish Council vote Thursday night in Gonzales to finalize the rate increases.

If approved, residential rate increases would be phased in June 1, so homeowners can fix leaks before the full rate increase begins Jan. 1.

Nearly 500 commercial and industrial users would see increases that take full effect June 1.

For 6,000 gallons per month in household use, the residential rates would rise from $33.10 per month to $45.96 per month.

For that level of use, the planned phase-in would increase residential rates initially about 21%, or $6.94 per month June 1, before the remaining increase takes effect seven months later.

Last year the parish, which owns the water system, was awarded $17.5 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to upgrade the system's leaking water lines, replace some 3,000 faulty meters, improve the water plant along the Mississippi River and other upgrades.

But $9.5 million of the $17.5 million is a loan and the rate increases are being used to pay off the future debt and build in maintenance and other reserves.

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.