Water & Sewer Utilities Rate Increases 


Thurston County Utilities is proposing a 3% increase in water and sewer rates for customers of the Boston Harbor, Grand Mound and Tamoshan utilities. A 3% increase in sewer rates is also being proposed for the customers of the Olympic View sewer utility. If approved, these proposed rate increases will take effect January 2022.


How are utility rates determined?

Utility rates are calculated by distributing the expected annual cost to maintain and operate the utility over the number of customers within the service area. These costs include a wide range of services, such as:

Utility rate adjustments are generally spread over several years to avoid large increases. If rates are not periodically adjusted, they may not provide enough funding to meet system needs and could potentially impact water quality.

 

When will changes take effect?

The Board of County Commissioners held a public hearing to solicit public comments on the proposed rate increases on November 9, 2021 and are expected to make a final decision on the increases in December, 2021. Click here to watch a video of the Public Hearing.

 

What will the new revenue be used for?

Revenue from utility rates are used to pay for a wide range of utility needs. It provides funds for:

The county manages the budget to provide for the current and future needs of each utility. System analysis indicates that each of the utilities will have significant retrofit needs over the next few years as aging infrastructure requires further repair and replacement. The County has determined the best way to meet those needs is to adopt a rate increase for 2022. This rate increase will be used to meet the immediate needs of the community and contribute toward capital reserves which helps offset the impact of unforeseen events. To adequately plan for the future, the County is conducting a cost-of-services study, anticipated to be completed in 2022, which will help inform future utility rates and structure.

 

When was the last rate increase?

The county operates four separate utilities: Boston Harbor Community, Grand Mound, Olympic View Community, and Tamoshan Community (includes sewer customers in Beverly Beach). Each of these utility service areas is currently operated and funded separately from one another. Each community is unique in size, treatment facilities, and age of infrastructure. The following tables outlines the increase to the monthly utility statement from 2017 through the projected increase in 2022.

 

Monthly Water Rate Increase ($)** 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022* 6-year increase Avg. Monthly Increase
Boston Harbor   2.35  2.59  5.69  6.83  0  1.23  18.69  $3.12/yr
Grand Mound   1.84  1.93  2.03  2.13  0  1.34  9.27  $1.55/yr
Tamoshan   3.29  3.45  3.63  3.81  0  2.40  16.58  $2.76/yr

Monthly Sewer Rate Increase ($) 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022* 6-year increase Avg. Monthly Increase
Boston Harbor   8.36  8.89  4.97  5.22  0  3.29  30.73  $5.12/yr
Grand Mound   3.79  3.98  4.18  4.39  0  2.76  19.10  $3.18/yr
Olympic View   4.34  4.56  4.79  5.03  0  3.17  21.89  $3.65/yr
Tamoshan   5.79  6.07  6.38  6.70  0  4.22  29.16  $4.86/yr
* Proposed rate increase for 2022
** Values are for base rate only, does not include usage
     - If approved, all utilities water usage rates will increase by $0.08 per 100 cubic feet in 2022

 

Are there other options besides a rate increase?

There are no funding sources to augment sewer and water maintenance and operations costs. Each utility is responsible to fund the improvements to the system required for them to function properly. Grants to fund capital improvements are very rare, and universally do not fund 100% of costs. The County is also evaluating funding options provided through the American Rescue Act. The County will diligently pursue all available options, but may also pursue loans or municipal bonds for large capital projects. While the cost of a project can be spread out over several years, these funding options carry additional costs such as program fees and interest charges. Repaying these loans or bonds would be the responsibility of each utility.

 

What would happen if the rate increase is not approved?

The County maintains a list of projects needed to maintain and improve the reliability of water and sewer service. The rate increase was proposed specifically to meet those needs and address increases in maintaining current service delivery levels. If the Board of County Commissioners choose not to approve the rate increase, some maintenance work and improvements cannot be funded. This could:
  • Impact the reliability of the system, affect water quality, and reduce the levels of service.
  • Lead to issues such as discolored water, odors, and extended response times.
  • Result in staff vacancies needed to operate water and wastewater facilities efficiently.
  • Place a large risk on the system due to insufficient funding.
  • Lead to greater risk of unforeseen repairs as the system ages.

 

What can I do to keep my utility bill as low as possible?

How much water you use can affect your usage charge. The Washington Department of Ecology is a great resource for learning practical tips on how to reduce water consumption. Use less, pay less (this is not the case in Olympic View, which is a fixed fee. However, by following the same guidelines, the community drainfield’s operation and maintenance costs will be reduced and will benefit the overall cost of operating the facility). You can help reduce wastewater treatment costs:
  • Do not dump chemicals or old prescriptions down the drain.
  • Do not dump any fats, oils, or grease down the drain.
  • Scrape leftover food into the garbage (or better yet, compost it) instead of washing it down the drain. Food items reduce treatment efficiency, put additional stress on equipment, and shorten the life expectancy of the treatment facility.
  • Do not flush bathroom or baby wipes, including the “flushable” kind, or feminine hygiene products down the drain. These products do not degrade fast enough and damage equipment.

Check out the links below for more information on water conservation, and proper disposal methods to help keep your water clean: