The West County Wastewater District (WCWD) voted against a proposed rate increase this week that would have funded system-wide improvements affecting residents in parts of North and East Richmond.
The proposed plan included a 20-year system upgrade –and steep rate hike – that would have replaced more than 79 miles of the system’s 249 miles of pipeline, according to the West County Times.
Some of the pipes in the system date back to the district’s creation 94 years ago, with an average age of 30 to 40 years, according to district statistics. Forty percent of the pipeline is more than 50 years old.
The changes would have also included important repairs to the district’s sewage treatment plant in Richmond, in addition to upgrading or relocating the district’s headquarters and service facilities. These changes would have helped the district comply with water and air quality regulations and protect the low-level treatment plant from sea-level rise.
But the cost in terms of added debt and rate hikes – it would have pushed rates for district property owners to more than $1,000 annually – made board members think twice. The board ultimately voted 3-2 to table the proposal until 2016.
Beverli Marshall, WCWD’s business services manager, said residents are already facing annual rate increases approved in 2013. Between now and 2018, annual rates for single family homes will increase from $381 to $465.
The WCWD serves 93,000 residents in San Pablo and portions of Richmond, Pinole, El Sobrante and unincorporated Contra Costa County. The City of Richmond provides wastewater treatment services for Richmond residents outside of WCWD’s service area.