WENATCHEE — City water and sewer rates will increase in the coming years.
The city of Wenatchee has made a number of modifications to its sewer and water code, including changes in rates and connection fee increases.
The modifications are in response to increased material and labor costs. Jessica Shaw, Wenatchee deputy public works director, said the city has seen costs for materials and parts increase between 20% and 75% in the last five years. Meanwhile, construction costs have gone up 30-40% in the past year.
Shaw said the changes will give the city the necessary funds to replace aging infrastructure. About 60 miles of water pipes, or 60% of the city’s water system, is nearing the end of its lifespan. Putting off that work could result in outages or contamination, she said.
“If you think about a day without water — you can’t make coffee, can’t take a shower, can’t do laundry, can’t wash dishes. Water is just a really big part of our everyday life,” Shaw said. “We really want to be more proactive and make sure that we’re replacing the old veins before they fail.”
Planned projects for the next few years include replacing a large water main on Crawford Street and replacing asbestos cement water pipes on Seventh and Eighth streets and Chelan Avenue.
Shaw says the city expects annual sewer revenues will increase by $450,000 and water revenues to increase by $580,000. Additional revenue from increased connection fees will be dependent on new development.
The increased revenue is minuscule when juxtaposed with the cost of replacing just a mile of water mains, which Shaw said ranges between $2 and $3 million.
Water rates will increase 12% annually for the next three years before returning to an annual increase rate of 6%. Shaw said the average monthly water bill for a single family will increase by about $3.56. The consumption rate per 100 cubic feet (748 gallons) will also increase from $2.25 to $2.52.
The city updated the sewer rate increase schedule. Previously, rates were scheduled to increase by 6% annually in 2022 and 2023 before switching to a 4.5% annual increase in 2024. However, after looking at a 10-year financial forecast, Shaw said the city realized it would need to continue 6% annual rate increases.
Beginning in January, single-family homes will see about a $2 monthly sewer bill increase. Despite the increase, the city’s rates will be the lowest in Central Washington, said Shaw.
Both water and sewer connection fees will increase 3% starting in March 2022. Shaw said the city opted for a later start date to give developers time to plan.
The city revised how it calculates sewer connection fees for multi-family properties. Rather than basing the fees on the size of the water meter, they will now base them on the number of units. A 30% discount is still in place for owners of existing homes who want to connect to the sewer system when the city extends sewer lines.
The city also removed a water connection fee waiver for multi-family residences and increased the fee from $400 to $1,200 per single-family home.