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Yes. If you use the same amount of water, you will still see an increase of $0.25 each month as the fixed cost went up. It is likely that everyone will see their sewer bills go up with the change in rates.
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The rates you pay go to fund the full operation of our water and sewer utilities. Specifically, this covers:
The City of West Fargo sets the new rates based on the cost of providing water and sewer service to the different user types. As the costs above increase, we need to make sure we are able to cover them. With this new rate adjustment, the rates will also fund additional repair and rehabilitation projects so the costs are not all special assessed to residents.
A COSA identifies all the costs associated with providing service to customers and determines which of those costs go to which user type based on how they use the systems. Categories of user types include:
It further identifies what costs do not change with use–called a fixed charge–and what costs do change–called a usage charge–to balance rates appropriately.
The bases of each fixed charge is the size of the meter, an industry recommended approach to determining the cost of providing service to each size of meter.
5/8" & 3/4" (standard residential size)
The fixed charges are intended to cover the fixed costs for providing service, such as budgeted administration, meters and billing. This is often the “overhead” of your utility.
Usage charges come from the amount of water recorded by the customer’s meter.
The usage charges are costs for operating the utility, such as water purchases, wastewater treatment, transmission, distribution, collection, pumping, and other operational and environmental variables. These are basically the costs associated with the gallon of water as it comes from your tap.
Yes, the more water you use, the more you will pay.
The City has a two-tier rate structure for residential water use. The first tier volumetric rate is $7.00 per thousand gallons up to 20,000 gallons. The second tier is $8.75 per thousand gallons over 20,000 gallons. These tiers do not apply to sewer rates.
This type of rate structure serves two primary purposes. First, the rate structure recognizes the cost of building extra capacity in the pipes, pumping, and storage facilities around the city to meet increasing average and peak day demands. Second, the structure encourages responsible water usage. Decreased water usage allows the City to delay future cost increases associated with increases to system capacity, thereby keeping capital costs down.
The first tier of 20,000 gallons includes an amount equal to typical indoor usage in any given month (which is less than 6,000 gallons) plus an amount to include lawn watering. Data from North Dakota State University estimates that about 14,000 gallons per month would be adequate to maintain an average sized green lawn. More information on summer lawn care can be found at this link.
Commercial and multifamily accounts will also see increases.
Businesses with larger meter sizes will see an increase associated with switching to fixed charges based on meter size. Additionally, businesses will not benefit from a cap on residential sewer usage. However, the two-tier rate structure, which charges more for usage over 20,000 gallons, does not apply to businesses due to large variability in how businesses use water. In other words, businesses will not see an increase in their water rate based solely on amount of water used.
The new residential rates provides a two-tier structure for water rates and a cap on sewage charges to avoid penalizing homes for maintaining a nice, green lawn. In the new two-tier structure, water usage up to 20,000 gallons is charged at a lower rate. If you use more than 20,000 gallons per month to water your lawn you may pay more. The sewage rate for residents caps at 8,000 gallons.
Here is an example of charges for 18,000 gallons of water (4,000 water indoors and 14,000 gallons to maintain an average sized lawn).
This year’s sewer increase is larger and intended to set the utility on a good path forward. However, as we continue to improve our utilities and operating costs increase user rates will increase to cover those rising costs, but at a smaller amount to keep pace with these increases. The West Fargo City Commission will review and act on these increases annually to verify they are appropriate.
The City will announce rate changes through local media, social media, City of West Fargo website, public access channel and on upcoming utility bills.
The City of West Fargo is not responsible for setting rent or determining if the occupant or building owner pays utilities. Your apartment management company will determine if they will change your rent based on their financial situation as it relates to utility charges.
The City of West Fargo does not have an assistance program for utility bill payments. However, the increases to utility rates will help to offset the costs associated with special assessments on select repair and rehabilitation projects.
A residence with a ¾” meter would pay about $52 in Fargo for 4,000 gallons of water and sewer service in a month. The same customer in West Fargo would pay $61. The difference comes from how the two cities fund infrastructure, with Fargo using revenues outside the utilities, such as sales tax, to offset water and sewer infrastructure costs. The City of West Fargo’s sales tax collection is not large enough to subsidize utility payments in this way.
This will be effective beginning with water and sewer usage July 1, which appears on the bill distributed at the end of July.
The new water and sewer rates are published on the Utilities website.
There is a portion of the City of West Fargo that receives water service from the Cass Rural Water District but sewage service from the City of West Fargo. In order to bill for sewage, the City of West Fargo will receive the customer’s monthly water meter reading from Cass Rural Water District and determine the sewage charge from that information.
According to the Water Environmental Federation, determining flow for wastewater is a complicated by the fact that most customers are not metered for wastewater flow. Even if a large user is metered for flow, the meters themselves tend to have some challenges on reliability. As a result, one of the most common approaches to determining the volume for wastewater is using the metered water use.
All of the industry standards and recommend approaches rely on the metered water consumption to some extent due to the cost and impracticality of metering wastewater flow. Under the new water and sewer rate structure, the City of West Fargo will use metered water usage, but put a cap on residential usage. This is done to account for much of the summer water flow that may not go into the sewer system.