Members of the Pierce County Council voted on Aug. 19 to increase the fees for connecting to the sanitary sewer system to help pay for the ongoing expansion of the Chambers Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant in University Place.
“This increase is a necessary step in the ongoing development of Pierce County utilities, but it’s important to note that current sewer customers won’t be affected,” said Council Chair Dan Roach, who represents the 1st Council District. “The expanded treatment plant will increase capacity, allow the county to repair and replace aging infrastructure and incorporate new technologies that help protect the environment.”
The Council voted 4-2 to approve Ordinance 2014-54s2. If signed by the county executive, it would increase the capacity charge and the basin area charge. The basin area charge will increase by an average of 6 percent on January 1, 2015, to adjust for inflation and pay for newly constructed sewer projects that provide sewer service to each basin area. The capacity charge will increase by $1,160 on January 1, 2015 to help pay for the $353 million expansion of the treatment plant.
The capacity charge has not increased since 1984, when the treatment plant was first built.
The increase will be phased in over a three-year period, and will apply to new construction as well as existing properties connecting to the sewer system. Effective on Jan. 1 of each year, the capacity charge will increase from $1,250 to $2,410 in 2015, to $3,100 in 2016, and to $3,618 in 2017. This change will affect new sewer customers in the cities of DuPont, Lakewood, University Place, and Milton, as well as unincorporated areas of the county.
The current capacity of the treatment plant is 28.7 million gallons per day (MGD). When the expansion project is complete, the plant’s capacity is expected to increase by 15 MGD, raising the total capacity to 43.7 MGD.
The ordinance also directs Public Works and Utilities to convene a working group to continue coordination with industry representatives to ensure that future increases are equitable and revenue neutral. Annual inflationary changes to the capacity charge and the basin area charge are subject to Pierce County Council approval each year during the budget process.
For more information on sewer connection charges, visit www.piercecountywa.org/connectioncharges.
Dan Roach, Council Chair