BPU endorses new sewer rates

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By The Staff

The Los Alamos Board of Public Utilities voted unanimously on Wednesday to endorse an increase in sewer rates proposed by the Department of Public Utilities.

The hike is necessary to cover the costs of repairing and replacing the 50- to 60-year-old infrastructure. The proposed ordinance increases overall sewer rates but also simplifies residential customers’ bills to a restructured flat fee every month. It removes the variable rate that is based on the amount of potable water consumed during winter months. The ordinance also includes continuing annual rate increases of eight percent for the next four years beginning in June 2013 to meet the critical future capital expenses of the sewer collection and wastewater treatment systems.

Commercial customers will continue to be charged a variable rate, but under the proposed ordinance these customers will pay the $7 customer fee in lieu of the previous fixed rate. The commercial variable rate will increase from $5.89 to $11.91 and will be based on the winter average of potable water consumed with a minimum 2000 gallons or other measuring period as determined appropriate by the DPU based on seasonal or other non-traditional water use patterns. Commercial customers’ rates will also rise by 8 percent a year through 2016.

The ordinance comes before council for approval sometime in January. Read Sunday's Los Alamos Monitor for more on this story.