Notice of Public Hearing
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
REGARDING A PROPOSED SEWER SERVICE CHARGE RATE INCREASE
The Board of Directors of the Carpinteria Sanitary District will conduct a public hearing to consider adoption of a proposed increase in sewer service charges on Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. The hearing will be conducted in the Board Room at the District’s Administrative Office located at 5300 Sixth Street in Carpinteria.
Background and General Information
The Carpinteria Sanitary District provides public sewer service to almost 4,600 residential and non-residential accounts. The District was formed in 1928 and now owns, operates and maintains over 42 miles of sewer pipelines, eight pump stations, and a wastewater treatment facility capable of treating up to 2.5 millions gallons of wastewater each day. We maintain a staff of 16 highly qualified professionals, many of whom hold licenses and certificates required by the State of California.
To fund ongoing operation, maintenance and capital needs, the District collects sewer service charges from users of the system. These charges are collected annually by the County on your property tax bill, but they are a charge for service and not a tax. Sewer service charges provide approximately 90% of the District’s total revenue and they fund the vast majority of operating, capital and debt service expenses.
Need for Proposed Rate Increase
The District has worked very hard to control operating costs and we will continue to do so going forward. Despite an intense focus on energy and operational efficiency, certain recurring costs are increasing. These include costs for chemicals, treatment equipment, electrical control systems, employee pensions, health insurance premiums and other key elements of our operating and maintenance function.
Over the past six years the District has implemented critical projects to rehabilitate and replace aging infrastructure at a cost of approximately $1.5M per year. This infrastructure renewal program, which must continue as our facilities age, is necessary to ensure consistent compliance with regulatory requirements and to protect public health and the environment. Construction costs, which had been relatively static, are now increasing.
The District does have outstanding bond debt (approximately $12M) which funded a major wastewater treatment plant upgrade in the mid 1990’s and partially funded a large $7M infrastructure improvement completed in 2016. We also anticipate debt financing a required building replacement project in FY 2017/18 with an expected cost of $2M. As such, annual bond payments are anticipated to increase slightly going forward.
When our internal fiscal cost and budget projections anticipated a potential revenue shortfall, the District engaged a highly qualified, independent consultant to prepare a Wastewater Rate and Fees Study. This effort included preparation of a detailed financial plan and development of a powerful computerized financial model. Together these tools were used to assess the actual cost of providing wastewater collection, treatment and disposal. A key step in this process involved allocating costs among different customer classes in proportion to the cost of providing service to these customers. Target reserve fund levels were reviewed and adjusted to provide an appropriate level of security.
Ultimately, the report recommended a series of modest incremental sewer service charge rate increases for all customers to ensure that the District’s revenue stream is adequate to provide the desired level of service and to continue to protect public health and the environment.
Proposed Residential Sewer Service Charge Rate Increases
The District’s current annual charge per residential dwelling unit is $614.16. This flat rate charge is assessed uniformly to single family homes, apartments, condominiums and mobile homes. To meet its ongoing fiscal obligations the District proposes incremental rate increases over the next five years. The table below shows the rate adjustments proposed for residential customers.
|FY 2017/18||FY 2018/19||FY 2019/20||FY 2020/21||FY 2021/22|
Per Dwelling Unit
These updated rates would become effective on July 1st of each year through July 2021. As a comparison, the following table provides a summary of current residential rates for other area wastewater agencies.
|Sewer Service Provider||Annual Charge per Dwelling Unit|
|Goleta Sanitary District||$428.23|
|City of Santa Barbara*||$483.24|
|City of Ventura*||$541.73|
|Carpinteria Sanitary District – Proposed||$625.31|
|Ojai Valley Sanitary District||$677.16|
|City of Santa Paula*||$934.92|
|Summerland Sanitary District||$994.17|
|City of Fillmore||$1,240.32|
|Montecito Sanitary District||$1,380.00|
*base charge plus variable rate assuming 7.5 HCF/month winter water use
Proposed Non-residential Sewer Service Charge Rate Structure
The District’s current non-residential rate structure was established in 2011 with adoption of Ordinance No. 13. The structure is simple, easy to administer, consistent with State and Federal guidelines, and equitable to all District customers. Non-residential customers fall into one of six strength classes based on standard wastewater characteristics for the specific type of business or use. The class definition is based on the sum of typical biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and total suspended solids (TSS) concentrations. Rates are based on a standard return rate of 90 percent (i.e. it is assumed that 90 percent of metered water use is discharged to the public sewer system). A cost per 1,000 gallons of water use was determined for each user class. Annual sewer service charges are calculated using the average annual water consumption over a three year period based on actual meter records provided by the water purveyor.
The proposed non-residential rates, outlined in the table below, are intended to recover the actual cost of providing collection, treatment and disposal. As such, the cost per gallon increases as the wastewater strength increases.
|FY 2017/18||FY 2018/19||FY 2019/20||FY 2020/21||FY 2021/22|
|Rate Per 1000 Gallons Water|
|Low||< 380 mg/L||$9.52||$9.90||$10.30||$10.72||$11.15|
|Medium Low||380 to 500 mg/L||$10.17||$10.59||$11.02||$11.47||$11.93|
|Medium||501 to 710 mg/L||$10.52||$10.94||$11.38||$11.84||$12.32|
|Medium High||710 to 1100 mg/L||$12.00||$12.48||$12.98||$13.50||$14.04|
|High||1101 to 1700 mg/L||$14.24||$14.81||$15.41||$16.03.||$16.68|
|Very High||> 1700 mg/L||Individually Calculated|
|MINMUM CHARGE PER ACCOUNT||$625.31||$650.33||$676.35||$703.41||$731.55|
These updated rates would become effective on July 1st of each year through July 2021.
The proposed increase for non-residential customers is proportionally higher than that for residential customers in year one (FY 2017/18) because reduced residential water use required cost reallocation between sectors. Owners of non-residential parcels are encouraged to discuss the proposed rate increases and new rate structure with tenants and lessees who may be impacted by the proposed changes.
The complete Wastewater Rates and Fees Study can be viewed on the District’s website by clicking here. A copy of the report is also available for viewing at the District’s Administrative Office and printed copies are available for the cost of reproduction. You may contact the District by phone at (805) 684-7214 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about the proposed rate increase. Written inquiries may also be submitted to District at the above address.
Procedures for Filing a Written Protest
Protests to the incremental rate increases described above must be submitted to the District in writing by 5:30 p.m. on June 6, 2017. Written protests will also be accepted at the public hearing. All written protests must be signed by the owner or tenant and contain a description of the property (address and/or Assessor Parcel Number). A general protest form for your convenience can be accessed by clicking here. You may fax your protest to (805) 684-7213 or send your written protest to:
Carpinteria Sanitary District
5300 Sixth Street
Carpinteria, CA 93013
Please do not send protests by e-mail. They will not be accepted. At the time of the public hearing, the District will tabulate all of the written protests. If written protests against the proposed rate increases as outlined above are not presented by a majority of owners of identified parcels within the District’s service area boundary, the District Board of Directors will be authorized to impose the rate increases. The Board of Directors will then consider and may adopt an ordinance or ordinances implementing the adjusted rate schedule.
It only happens when it rains
As they say, when it rains it pours. On Friday, Feb. 17 it poured in Carpinteria. Nearly 4.5 inches of rain fell during a 24-hour period, more than I’ve seen in any single day since my job made me start paying attention to such things.
Of course, with the prolonged drought, we need the rain badly and this deluge allowed our local water purveyors to breathe a small sigh of relief. For wastewater agencies, however, intense rainfall events like this one can end up in the category of “too much of a good thing.”
Infiltration and inflow, or I&I, is an industry term that refers to storm water or shallow groundwater that enters the sewer collection system during and immediately following a rain event. In the wastewater business, I&I is bad.
There are several ways that rainwater gets into the sewer system. Surface flooding can inundate sewer manholes allowing water to enter the system through vent holes in cast iron manhole lids. When soils are saturated, rainwater can infiltrate the sewer system through cracks in underground manholes, sewer mains and sewer laterals. Finally, and most significantly, storm water can enter the sewer system through the illicit connection of roof drains, yard drains and other surface drains.
No doubt all of these sources of I&I came into play on Feb. 17. Flows into the wastewater treatment plant were over three times higher than normal—we treated 3.4 million gallons as compared to just over a million gallons on a normal day. Fortunately, the treatment facility has the hydraulic capacity to handle these abnormal events, but pumping and treatment costs are dramatically affected by I&I.
I&I presents an even bigger problem in the sewer collection system. The District has seven pump stations, located throughout Carpinteria, that convey wastewater to the treatment facility. These pump stations, and the network of sewer pipelines throughout our service area, are not designed to handle tremendous amounts of storm water inflow. Flows at some of our remote pump stations during this event were four or five times higher than normal, requiring District staff to mobilize emergency auxiliary pumps in order to keep up with incoming flows. Even with our pre-storm preparations, a major effort was required throughout the day to avoid sewer spills or overflows that would have otherwise resulted from excessive I&I.
Sewer spills are serious—they can affect water quality, threaten public health and result in major fines or penalties. Much of our focus at the District is on maintaining and improving our sewer collection system to avoid spills and overflows. We have an ongoing program to rehabilitate or replace pipelines and manholes, eliminating sources of I&I, but to really be effective we need help from our customers.
First and foremost, make sure that your roof drains, downspouts, yard drains or other surface drains are not connected to the sanitary sewer. District staff members are available to help verify this or to investigate any storm drains that may be inadvertently connected to the public sewer system. Second, consider having your lateral sewer—the pipe between your home and the street—inspected to make sure there are no cracks or breaks or other defects that would contribute to I&I. There are several local plumbers who are able to assist homeowners with video pipeline inspections and any required repairs. Your help on these fronts is greatly appreciated.
I know we are all hoping for a few more rainstorms this season to fill our reservoirs and replenish our groundwater resources. Personally, I’m hoping it comes in smaller doses, but we will be ready no matter what.