Billing FAQs

 


Q: What does my sewer and SWM bill pay for?

A: Sewer charges pay for sewer pipes, maintenance and construction, and operation of the wastewater treatment plants and costs associated with the treatment.

Surface Water Management (SWM) fees pay for the public storm drainage system, which includes street sweeping, catch basin cleaning, and flood response.

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Q: How does new construction pay?

A: New users connecting to the sanitary sewer and surface water management (SWM) systems pay System Development Charges (SDCs), or connection fees, of $5,400 ($4,900 for sanitary sewer and $500 for SWM for each dwelling unit or equivalent). Connection fees support the existing infrastructure and future capacity requirements.

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Q: What if I can't pay my bill?

A: Please call our Customer Service Department at (503) 681-4400. Although there are no discounts available, we may be able to arrange a payment plan. Additionally, social service agencies not connected to Clean Water Services may be able to provide assistance on a one-time basis.

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Q: How are sewer and surface water management rates set?

A: Oregon law allows Clean Water Services to collect fees for sewer and surface water management, similar to other government utilities such as water suppliers. The Board of Directors, your publicly elected representatives, formally set the rates and charges after a series of public hearings. The rate structure generates sufficient revenue to operate, maintain, and improve the community's sanitary sewer system and surface water management.

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Q: How can I avoid late charges?

A: Late charges will be assessed 2 percent on the amount of the delinquent service charges over 30 days past due. An additional 2 percent late charge will be assessed for each additional billing period the charges remain unpaid.

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Q: Is there an exemption to the SWM fee?

A: If all stormwater runoff from a property is disposed of and treated on site, it may qualify for an exemption. There are two methods for on-site disposal and treatment. The first is an approved dry well or other detention facility. The second method is to have a large vegetated area that treats the stormwater runoff prior to leaving the property. If the property meets these requirements, it may qualify for an exemption. To learn more or to request an exemption packet, contact Clean Water Services' Engineering Department at (503) 681-3600. The exemption review costs $28.50 per equivalent service unit. If you are billed directly by one of our member cities, please contact them directly to request an exemption packet.

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Q: What areas are served by Clean Water Services?

A: In conjunction with 12 member cities, we provide sewer and Surface Water Management (SWM) to about 551,000 people in the urban areas of the Tualatin River Watershed, which closely follows the urban growth boundary.

The member cities are: Banks, Beaverton, Cornelius, Durham, Forest Grove, Gaston, Hillsboro, King City, North Plains, Sherwood, Tigard, Tualatin, Small Portions of Lake Oswego, Small Portions of Portland, Portions of Multnomah and Clackamas Counties.

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Q: What does the SWM program pay for?

A: Clean Water Services and member city crews are responsible for the public drainage system. The SWM Program Pays For:

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Q: What impact can I have on my sewer charges?

A: Your sewer charge has two parts. The "base" rate is $51.70 per dwelling unit bi-monthly, which is approximately two-thirds of the charge. Single family residences are generally considered one dwelling unit. The base rate is not affected by conservation efforts.

The "usage" charge is based on average winter water consumption November through April, which is reviewed and updated annually. Winter water consumption is a good indicator of the wastewater your household produces and discharges into the sewer system for treatment. New customers' sewer usage charge is based on our system average and not affected by the prior occupant's usage history.

By using water wisely, you can save money on your sewer usage charge as well as your water bill.

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Q: When and why was Clean Water Services established?

A: In 2001, after more than 30 years of being known as the Unified Sewerage Agency, our Board of Directors selected a new name, Clean Water Services, to reflect our broader role and responsibilities in the Tualatin Valley Basin.

In 1970, Clean Water Services was formed as the Unified Sewerage Agency (USA) of Washington County to address water pollution problems in the Tualatin River watershed. A 2-to-1 vote of the public authorized the District as a service district under authority of Oregon Revised Statutes, Chapter 451, to implement a master plan for sewerage improvements and to provide for financing. Clean Water Services acquired the facilities of 16 sanitary districts and consolidated their operations. Clean Water Services owns, operates and maintains or controls all the sanitary sewerage collection and treatment systems within its service area, and maintains the public drainage and flood management systems. In 1990, the District added the Surface Water Management (SWM) program that is responsible for the public drainage system and surface water quality.

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Q: Why do I have to pay a SWM fee?

A: The Surface Water Management (SWM) program was established in 1990 to protect our valuable water resources and to meet strict water quality regulations set by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for the Tualatin River and its tributaries.

The SWM fee provides the financial resources necessary for Clean Water Services to meet these standards in our community by providing flood management and water quality protection and improvement in the urban portions of the Tualatin Basin.

The program provides for enhancing and maintaining the public drainage system, help manage roadway flooding, respond to flooding emergencies, and protect the health of the Tualatin River and its urban tributaries. A healthy environment and water quality protections promote a livable community, which benefits everyone.

Man-made improvements result in impervious surface areas such as roof tops, patios, driveways, and pavement, not permeated by water and result in additional run-off into the public drainage system. Run-off water carries pollutants and impacts our tributaries and streams. The SWM charge is not affected by water conservation efforts.

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

A: The cost to treat wastewater to the near drinking water quality standards we are required to meet is greater than providing clean tap water for household consumption. The drinking water supply in our area is generally so clean it only requires disinfection to bring it to drinking water standards.

Wastewater discharged to our sanitary sewer system goes through a series of mechanical, biological and chemical processes. Prior to treated wastewater being released into the Tualatin River, the chemicals used in the cleaning process are removed. Biosolids, a by-product of the cleaning process are also treated prior to being reused in agri-business applications.

Clean Water Services processes 58 million gallons of wastewater and 31 dry tons of biosolids each day.

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