About Our Rates
Why charge a Fixed Rate per Month instead of a variable charge based on the volume of water used by each household?
Fixed costs largely drive our rate. It is common in the sewer industry for base rates to be higher than water rates, irrespective of the volume of water used each month. 29 lift stations pump & carry sewage around and away from the lake via 125 miles of deep pipelines. This deep collection system must be sized for “peak flows” during winter when the water table is highest. Winter flows can easily be 50% higher than the sewage accumulated from local homes and businesses. Lake Stevens needs about twice as much infrastructure in the ground as a City with the same size population because of the large lake and other natural resource constraints.
While 80% of the water entering a home goes into the District’s sanitary sewer system, there are other cost elements to consider. Sewer drains flow from toilets, sinks, kitchens, dishwashers, garbage disposals, laundry equipment, showers, etc. The District processes solids, grease, fecal matter, detergents, food debris and many other chemicals that we do not want in our local water supply. The modern LSSD Treatment Plant equipment performs highly effective treatment of sewage, creating a near pure water that goes back into Ebey Slough to the Snohomish River. Solids are formed into a “fertilizer” application and trucked to agricultural land in Eastern WA.
Is Lake Stevens on track to hit the 50,000 population number soon? Aren’t new homes helping to lower your costs?
New homes are helping to lower costs, but only to some degree. Our Treatment Plant was built for the projected Lake Stevens population of 50,000 combined residents and business employment; the mandate for the Plant’s design and equipment selection. The City and the County have adjusted their planning forecast after the 2008 recession adding another 10 years onto the forecast until local employment and home construction completely rebound.
In addition to cost-cutting, the Sewer District has adopted a more conservative growth strategy, adopting fiscal targets that are close to one-half that proposed by the City and County. Otherwise, rates could be much higher since growth has slowed down significantly than forecasted prior to the 2008 recession. The District taking a more conservative approach has kept rates stable with no rate increases for several years.