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April 23, 2013 > Union Sanitary District proposes new rates

Union Sanitary District proposes new rates

Submitted By Michelle Powell

Union Sanitary District (USD) recently mailed letters to all property owners in the Tri-Cities with information about rates for 2014 - 2016. In order to continue to provide high levels of service and maintain and replace aging infrastructure, it will be necessary for the District to increase rates over the next three years. For 2014, rates will increase about $18 per year ($1.52 per month) for single family residences. Increases for multifamily residences will be slightly less. In 2015 and 2016, similar increases of $19 and $20 per year will occur. The total of the increases over three years will average less than $20 per year, or $1.61 per month.

The increases are needed in part to offset lost revenue from large industries that have ceased business or left the service area, including NUMMI, Solyndra, Borden Chemical, and SF Newspaper Group, historically some of the District's largest customers.

USD's mission includes protecting public health and the environment through its stewardship of wastewater infrastructure in the Tri-Cities. The District is responsible for maintaining over 780 miles of sewer pipelines, and operating and maintaining seven pump stations and its wastewater treatment plant. The plant, located in Union City, currently receives an average of over 25 million gallons of sewage daily, which is treated to state and federal standards before being pumped to the deep waters of the Bay.

"The cost of operating and maintaining these facilities continues to rise year after year, often outpacing inflation," says General Manager Richard Currie. "In particular, the cost of electricity, chemicals and petroleum products continues to rise. Our annual PG&E bill alone exceeds $2,000,000. Labor costs are also increasing, especially the cost of health care benefits."

"USD's rates are within the lowest 12 percent of the 27 Bay Area Wastewater agencies and communities we survey, yet we provide some of the most extensive and reliable services," continues Currie. "We understand that our customer's budgets are tight, and we try to keep rate increases to a minimum. Even with the proposed increases, our rates will remain well below those of other Bay Area agencies."

USD is projecting to spend over $180 million for improvements to the Tri-City sewer and treatment system infrastructure over the next 10 years. "Some of our pipelines date back to the early 1900s, and the current treatment plant was first constructed in 1978," explains Currie. "Replacement of aging facilities is critical to reliable service and continued protection of public health."

USD will receive written comments from property owners regarding the proposed rate increase until June 3, 2013. Comments should be addressed to "Rates - USD Boardroom," P.O. BOX 5050, Union City, CA 94587-8550, or e-mailed to contactUSD@unionsanitary.ca.gov. There will be a public hearing on June 10 at 7:00 p.m. during the District's regular Board meeting at its offices in Union City.
For more information about USD, visit the District's website at www.unionsanitary.ca.gov, or call (510) 477-7500.

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