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Nevada County News

Posted on: April 29, 2021

Nevada County Sanitation Proposed Sewer Rate Adjustments

Waste Water Pics (6)

The Nevada County Sanitation District No. 1 (“District”, “NCSD No. 1”) is responsible for 10 wastewater collection and treatment zones in Nevada County.  The District is comprised of several “zones” in Western Nevada County, including Lake Wildwood, Lake of the Pines, Cascade Shores, North San Juan, Gold Creek, Higgins Village, Penn Valley, Valley Oak Court, Mountain Lake Estates, and Eden Ranch.  The District is a dependent district operating under the authority of the NCSD No. 1 Board of Directors and is a branch of the Nevada County Department of Public Works. In total, the District serves 5600 customers.

To continue to provide safe, reliable sewer services with proper maintenance, NCSD No. 1 must evaluate fees. User charges (collected bi-annually on the tax roll), connection fees, permit fees, and other miscellaneous charges are intended to be the sole source of revenue. Also, they fund the operation and maintenance of the District’s sewer facilities.  

Over time, maintenance expenses rise. Regularly evaluating sewer rates helps to determine the needed revenue to account for normal inflationary increases for equipment, utilities, materials, contract services, increase in wages, benefits, health, and general liability insurance; increases in charges from regulatory agencies and mandatory staffing requirements.  

To ensure financial sustainability, it is important to generate adequate revenue to fund system reserves and a portion of the system depreciation.  Funding sewer facility depreciation is important so that the District has the financial stability needed to properly fund the planning, design, and construction of future capital improvements, such as system rehabilitation/replacement or expansion of facilities, as needed.

The District commissioned a rate study.  To fully fund the anticipated 2021-2026 expenditures, as well as properly fund reserves, the District is proposing an adjustment to the District’s sewer rates.  Reserve balances ensure funds are available to pay for critical Operation and Maintenance expenses that allow the District to run smoothly. The adjustments are included in the table below and reflect the increasing cost to provide critical services.  Increases vary depending on which service area your parcel is located within.

These proposed changes would be the first time the District has increased wastewater rates in over a decade, if approved.  Wastewater rates set by public agencies in California are subject to Proposition 218, which requires that rates be set based on actual cost-of-service.  The proposed rate structure accounts for actual cost-of-service, existing debt, future costs, and the proposed wastewater rates for 2021-2026, detailed below and at www.mynevadacounty.com/NCSDRates.  

The District works hard to keep costs under control and operate as efficiently as possible.  In recent years, the District has worked to consolidate sewer treatment areas; self-perform maintenance activities that had historically been contracted out; rebuilt, instead of replaced pumps and motors; worked to seal the collection system to keep stormwater out of our pipes; and focused on preventative maintenance efforts cutting down on emergency response calls. Overall, these changes reduced charges to the District and kept the systems well maintained.  While the District works to reduce expenses, the increase in rates addresses critical challenges, including:

  • Funding the expanding capital needs of NCSD No. 1 while replenishing needed reserve fund balance; and
  • Responding to unfunded California mandates, including water quality, stormwater intrusion, system performance, and replacement of aging infrastructure; and
  • Protecting against catastrophic events including wildfire preparation and PSPS events to ensure public safety; and
  • Maintaining NCSD No. 1’s high quality of service and response while investing in a more reliable and resilient collection and treatment system.

“The proposed changes will help stabilize funds in the zones and help fund much-needed infrastructure replacements to an aging wastewater system. It will allow our teams to continue to provide cost-efficient services to our customers,” said Trisha Tillotson, Director of Nevada County Public Works.  Tillotson goes on to explain, “some of the core infrastructure replacements would include replacement of aging pipes and sewer mains, standby generators for sewer lift stations, pump replacements, and replacements to equipment at our Wastewater Treatment Plants.”

The Proposed wastewater rate increases will be presented to the NCSD No. 1 Board of Directors at the public hearing scheduled for June 22nd, 2021 at 1:30pm.  Proposition 218 notices will be sent to each property owner in the service districts the week of May 3rd.  If you have questions related to your sewer rates, the Rate Study, the proposed rates, or the Proposition 218 process please visit www.mynevadacounty.com/NCSDRates or email NCSDRates@co.nevada.ca.us.

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