About Our Rates
ABOUT YOUR MONTHLY SEWER SERVICE RATE
The Lake Stevens Sewer District has established cost-based fees, rates and charges to provide sufficient funding to build, operate, maintain and reinvest in our wastewater system that provides our ratepayers with safe and reliable wastewater services. Sewer service charges pay for the treatment and disposal of the sewage, maintenance of the existing sewer system, which includes transmission lines and treatment facility, and ensures that infrastructure needs are met.
Why does my rate keep going up?
RCW 57.08.081 requires the Board of Commissioners to set rates that cover the cost of doing business. The District experiences the effects of inflation like everyone else, whether that’s fuel, construction costs, labor, or supply chain delays. These costs are firm costs that end up being covered by sewer rates.
Why do I pay the same as my neighbor?
RCW 57.08.081 requires the Board of Commissioners to set rates “so that uniform charges will be made for the same class of customer or service and facility.” Consistent with this statute, the Board has set all residential accounts the same.
Application of residential sewer service rates vary across the state. Some jurisdictions that provide both water and sewer service are able to bill for both services based on water usage. Other jurisdictions charge based on the size of the dwelling unit; for example, a single-family home may pay more than a studio apartment. The Lake Stevens Sewer District does not have access to water usage data for residential customers and it is cost prohibitive to install and read meters for each account.
With all the new homes being built in Lake Stevens, why doesn’t the sewer rate go down?
When new homes are constructed, the developer will usually enter into a Developer Extension Agreement (DEA) with the District. This agreement, among other things, requires the developer to install any necessary sewer infrastructure and then donate newly built sewer system to the District at the conclusion of the project. In addition, new connections to the sewer system are charged a general facility charge (GFC, also known as a connection fee) for the pro-rata share of the existing system. This way, new construction is paying for growth and existing rate payers do not supplement the project.
New connections to the sewer system add additional revenue, but they also add additional costs to maintain the sewer system and treat the additional wastewater.
Why is my sewer service rate so high?
One of the great benefits of living in this community is the centralized location of our beautiful lake; however, this sensitive feature also creates a challenge for the wastewater system. Due to the topography of the region, wastewater leaving most homes must travel through miles of gravity or pressurized pipe before it reaches the wastewater treatment plant. Wastewater must go through extensive treatment before it meets stringent standards and can safely be discharged into Ebey Slough. Sewer rates must cover the cost to collect and treat wastewater.
In 2013, the District opened a new wastewater treatment plant after being directed by the Washington State Department of Ecology to move outside of the floodplain where the old plant was located. The new plant was expected to be able to handle the size of the growing community and met treatment standards set at the time. To build the new plant the District took on approximately $120,000,000. Although the District has retired a significant portion of that debt, nearly half of the monthly service rate is used for debt interest and principal payments related to the plant.
Isn’t there another funding source?
The District is a Special Purpose District form of government under RCW Title 57. All District funds are proprietary funds and are only generated or used for sewer-related costs. The District does not receive funds from taxes except under very special circumstances by formation of a Utility Local Improvement District (ULID). Whenever possible, the District looks for grant funds, but these are limited and not widely offered to special purpose districts.