Proposed 2014-15 Sanitary Sewer & SWM Rate Increase FAQs

 

 

Q: What is the proposed sanitary sewer and surface water management (SWM) rate increase?

A: $1.15 (3%) per month sanitary sewer proposed rate increase

$0.50 (8%) per month SWM proposed fee increase

= $1.65 (3.7%) per month combined sewer and SWM proposed rate increase for average residential customer.

The increases are shared proportionally between Clean Water Services and its member Cities. Clean Water Services sets the minimum sewer and SWM rates. The member Cities may implement additional charges to meet local and capital operating costs.

The proposed rate will increase the average residential customer's bill by $1.65 month—not an insubstantial amount but one that still leaves the average bill at about half of an electricity bill, a third of a cable bill and half a cell phone bill. An interruption in these other services is generally inconvenient; an interruption in wastewater services could be catastrophic.

The System Development Charges (SDCs) per equivalent dwelling unit (EDU) and equivalent service unit (ESU) are proposed to be:

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Current and proposed Monthly Charges for an Average Household

Based on average monthly water usage of 8 ccf (ccf = hundred cubic feet or 748 gallons)

Charges Current 2014 Proposed Increase Total Proposed 2014-15
Sanitary Sewer BASE Portion (65% approx) $25.10 $0.75 $25.85
Sanitary Sewer USE Portion (35% approx) $1.67/ccf $0.05 $1.72/ccf
Average Monthly Sanitary Bill (based on 8 ccf/month usage) $38.46 $1.15
$39.61
Monthly Surface Water Management Bill $6.25 $0.50 $6.75
Combined Average Monthly Bill $44.71 $1.65 $46.36

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Q: Why is a rate increase necessary?

A: Expand, replace and upgrade aging sanitary infrastructure

For 44 years the community's investment in wastewater treatment has paid dividends for the Tualatin River. Continued investment ($58.4 million) is necessary to pay for the upgrade and expansion of Clean Water Services' four wastewater treatment facilities, 40 pump stations and nearly 800 miles of sewer pipes. Clean Water Services anticipates selling $50 million in bonds in 2015 to finance vital sanitary sewer projects. The bond sale will ease future rate increases and build reserves for future projects.

Expand, replace and upgrade aging drainage system and control pollution

Clean Water Services and City crews manage more than 525 miles of storm sewers as part of the public drainage system for a growing population to improve water quality, protect fish habitat and manage flooding ($4.5 million).

Comply with federal and state pollution control standards

To meet some of the most stringent water quality requirements, the community's wastewater is cleaned to a higher standard than 98% of other utilities in the nation.

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Q: Where does my rate payment go?

A: The proposed monthly rate for the average customer beginning July 1, 2014 is $46.36.

$26.43 (57%) Operating costs including staff, utilities and resources to operate and maintain the sanitary and surface water system infrastructure.
$12.05 (26%) Capital program including construction and improvement of sanitary and surface water infrastructure.
$7.88 (17%) Debt including principal and interest on sanitary bonds for current and future investments.
$46.36 total

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Q: How is Clean Water Services reducing the long-term costs of the utility?

A: Staff Reductions

Clean Water Services has worked to reduce the long-term operating costs of the utility through innovation, using new technology and reorganizing the workforce. Despite increasing stringent state and federal pollution control requirements and a growing service district, Clean Water Services has:

Energy Efficiency

The District's energy investments pay big dividends, not only for the environment but also for the bottom line. Some of these energy-reduction efforts include:

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Q: Why are rates different from city to city?

A: Clean Water Services and its member Cities adopted a new rate model in 2008 that provides stable funding for regional services and provides flexibility for the District and its member Cities to provide local services. Clean Water Services sets a district-wide rate for both sewer and surface water management and also a local rate for the unincorporated areas within urban Washington County. Each City may then adopt Clean Water Services' local rate or may choose to adopt their own rate to meet the needs of their community.

Proposed Monthly Single Family Combined Bill beginning July 1, 2014

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Q: How does new development pay for connecting to the sanitary sewer and surface water management system?

A: For each new dwelling, the developer pays a one-time fee to connect to the sanitary sewer and surface water management systems. These connection fees, known as system development charges (SDCs), reflect the value of existing infrastructure and future capacity requirements. To ensure new construction pays a reasonable share of capital costs related to growth, Clean Water Services is recommending a $100 increase (2.1%) in the one-time System Development Charge (SDC) per equivalent dwelling unit (EDU). The sanitary sewer SDC would increase from $4,800 to $4,900 per EDU. The SWM SDC will remain at $500.

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Q: Why is the sewer bill higher than the water bill?

A: It costs more to clean wastewater than to provide pure tap water because the process involves a series of mechanical, biological and chemical treatments. All the chemicals used to clean wastewater must be removed before the water is released to the Tualatin River. Finally, the biosolids that settle out must be processed and recycled. Every day, Clean Water Services facilities clean an average of 58 million gallons of wastewater and produce 28.5 dry tons of biosolids. Clean Water Services' advanced (tertiary) treatment exceeds standards of nearly every other wastewater facility in the nation. The cleaned wastewater actually improves the water quality of the Tualatin River.

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Q: How can I help control my sewer bill?

A: You can reduce sewer charges by using water wisely. Part of your sewer bill is based on the amount of wastewater a household produces. The usage portion of the charge is calculated from the customer's water usage the previous winter (November-April). By using winter averages, the customer is not charged more in the summer for outdoor watering, since that water doesn't go into the wastewater system. A portion of the charge, the base rate, reflects the fixed costs of service and is not affected by water usage. Conserving water can lower the sewer bill.

Every year, from April through June, Clean Water Services goes through a budget process to establish rates for the following fiscal year. Public meeting notices are published in local newspapers, inviting the public to comment on proposed rates before the budget is adopted. Before any rate change, the District sends media releases to local newspapers and billing inserts to customers to notify customers of rate increases.

Clean Water Services' Board of Directors adopts the District's budget and rates. Citizens can testify regarding the 2014-15 proposed budget and rates at the June 17, 2014 Board meeting.

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Q: Can I receive a credit for installing stormwater-friendly landscaping?

A: In order to keep your Surface Water Management (SWM) fee one of the lowest in the region, Clean Water Services does not administer a rebate program. Instead, residents can take advantage of the Clean Water Hero landscaping assistance program. Sign up to receive up to three hours of on-site technical assistance to help you create a sustainable stormwater landscape that will reduce polluted runoff from your property and maintain the health of our local waterways. Our expert will create a design that will increase your property value and enhance the livability of our Tualatin River Watershed. Whether it's installing a rain garden, choosing the right native plant or other sustainable living tip, we'll help you become a Clean Water Hero and the talk of your neighborhood.


Q: Is the public notified about rate increases? How can I get involved?

A: Every year, from April through June, Clean Water Services goes through a budget process to establish rates for the following fiscal year. Public meeting notices are published in local newspapers, inviting the public to comment on proposed rates before the budget is adopted. Before any rate change, the District sends media releases to local newspapers and billing inserts to customers to notify customers of rate increases.

Clean Water Services Board of Directors

Public Hearing to consider and adopt Budget & Rates
10:00 a.m., Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Shirley Huffman Auditorium
Public Services Building
155 N. First Ave., Hillsboro, OR 97124

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