- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Some considerations to help us move through denial and on to acceptance of the sewer rate increases soon to appear on our utility bills.
A typical first response is to send a proposed rate increase back to the utility company because its profits are high enough without a rate increase.
The Los Alamos wastewater utility is municipally-owned, has no stockholders and no profit margin.
It must collect what it costs to operate the wastewater system.
A second common response is that someone else should pay, perhaps by getting a grant or maybe hoping that the Zia Company will take care of it for us.
With the exception of our new wastewater treatment plant in Pueblo Canyon, someone else did pay for our sewer system, many years ago, and then transferred it to Los Alamos County as a gift.
That gift is now wearing out and it is our turn to pay. A third response is that sewer bills in Los Alamos should match those of Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Unlike Santa Fe and Albuquerque, Los Alamos must convey sewage across mesa and canyon terrain by means of a complex and expensive pipe and pump network.
Once accepting that we have to pay the costs of upgrading our aging sewer system, there are questions about which we rate payers can constructively inform ourselves and express our opinions.
To what extent has the Department of Public Utilities considered the costs and effectiveness of alternate technologies?
For example, instead of building a new treatment plant in White Rock, could we use tank trucks to convey sewage from White Rock to the new treatment plant in Pueblo Canyon?
Must we spend very large sums to bypass historic trails or might construction disturbance in such areas be done with special care and heal satisfactorily in the course of a few years?
Given that every sewer bill must increase, to what extent might a water volume component in the rate lead to significant potable water conservation?
Let’s all of us, rate payers and elected officials, make the effort to inform ourselves and then focus on constructive discussion of the sewer rate increase.