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Sewer Rates May Rise
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A long delayed increase in sewer rates will be proposed at the July 13 Riverbank City Council meeting to start the 45-day process of mail approval by the voters under Proposition 218.

The current monthly residential rate for sewer use is expected to rise from $20.15 to $23.79, with slightly higher rates for those living outside city limits or running businesses.

But the city is also seeking to hike the sewer connection fees that currently stand at $1,350 per dwelling and cover the capital costs of the sewer system and what it cost the original residents to build. The State recently imposed new requirements for a Sanitary System Management Plan and other improvements to the wastewater treatment plant and sewer collection system call for an increase that will be presented for fiscal years 2009-2012 at the next council meeting.

Staff is also requesting the council approve a yearly Consumer Price Index increase of 75 percent of the annual April West/BC Index with no sunset clause.

Looking back at the history in his written memo presented June 22, City Manager Rich Holmer noted the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Central Valley Region issued Riverbank a notice of violation in 2003 for the accumulation of sludge in its preliminary treatment pond. Inaccurate cost figures were given to the city administration and finance department on repair and a $1.02 per month increase approved for seven years did not cover the cost of the sludge removal.

In addition, engineers later discovered the clay liner under one pond was "compromised." The liner was at least 40 years old and drillings in some areas found no liner at all.

This could have led to degradation of ground and surface water and severe fines and levies by the Water Quality Control Board. So in 2005, the city issued bonds in the amount of almost $4 million to make a series of improvements to the collection system and the wastewater treatment plant.

Under the provisions of Proposition 218, protest ballots were mailed to all land and property owners in the city and on Nov. 10 of 2008, the city held a public hearing to adopt the new sewer system increases. There were 25 written protests received and 80 notices were returned to the city because they could not be delivered.