Sacramento-area residents will soon notice an increase on their monthly sewer bill, after sanitation leaders voted unanimously to raise fees — with additional rate hikes planned in following years.
The fee increase — which initially caused a public outcry in 2010 — passed without a single public comment, as Regional Sanitation District board members considered the matter, Wednesday.
The 17-member board is made up of the five Sacramento County Supervisors, a representative from Yolo County, and representatives from the various cities within the District. Citrus Heights representative Jeannie Bruins was among those voting in favor of raising the fee.
A four-page flier mailed out by Regional San last year said that rates will need to gradually rise over the next 8 to 10 years from the current rate of $26 to about $45 to $51-per-month.
The board approved a three-year phase of this plan, increasing rates to $29 on July 1, 2014, $32 the following year, and $35 in 2016.
The fee increase will help cover the added costs of meeting new State environmental permit requirements, passed by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board in 2010.
The new “EchoWater Project” will cost an estimated $1.5-2.2 billion, and promises to “effectively remove” ammonia, nitrate, and pathogens from waste water that is currently released into the Sacramento River after an existing two-step filtration system.
Regional San has consistently argued that its current filtration is sufficient and that the added regulations are not based on conclusive testing, but in a 2010 letter to Senator Darrell Steinberg, the water quality control board asserted that pathogens released by Regional San increase water-born illness risk by 1-3 times for downstream swimmers in the Sacramento River.
The letter also argued that ammonia could pose a threat to the Delta, including being toxic to fish, but admitted “there is currently no definitive test for chronic toxicity to Delta Smelt.”
The project is expected to be completed by 2023.
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