Important Note: If you are on a private septic system and received a notice about sewer rates, you may disregard as this does not apply to you. This sewer rate only applies to customers that are connected to the City sewer system.
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Frequently Asked Questions:
What is this notice about and why did I receive it?
The City is proposing changes to sewer service rates. Per Proposition 218, the City must notice all customers of the proposed changes. The mailer serves as this notice. If you are not connected to the City sewer system, you may disregard the notice.
What is the purpose of sewer service charges?
The purpose of the charge is to collect revenue for the cost of maintenance, operation, replacement, and improvement of the City sewerage facilities used for the collection, treatment, and disposal of sewage.
How much will my bill increase at my residence?
The average residential property owner will see an increase of about $15 per month.
How does the “volumetric” part of the rate work?
Approximately 30% of the sewer fee will be based on the amount of water you use in the previous December – March time period when most of the water consumed reaches the sewer. To estimate your bill, multiply your average monthly water consumption for DEC-MAR by the volumetric charges per HCF listed in the notice, then add that to the fixed charge shown in the notice. Please see the notice for more detail.
Example for a typical house: (9.0 HCF x $1.22) + $26.84 = $37.82. Your actual bill for your house will be based on your actual average DEC-MAR water usage in HCF X $1.22 + 26.84.
What if I irrigate, have a pool, or use water that doesn’t go to sewer during December – March?
The water uses during DEC-MAR that do not reach the sewer are much lower and should not have a great impact on the rate formula. Additionally, only about 30% of the rate is based on this volumetric formula, not 100%.
What is the basis for the proposed charges?
30% of the sewer collection system has reached its useful life, and there are significant capital improvements required at the Water Pollution Control Plant in the coming years. Proposition 218 requires charges for utilities to correspond to the cost associated with providing the services, and that customers within each user classification pay their fair share of the total cost. The City retained a third-party consultant, NBS Government Finance Group, to prepare a Sewer Rate Study that provided a rate structure that recovers sufficient revenue to cover infrastructure repair and replacement needs as well as day-to-day services, in compliance with Proposition 218.
When was the last time the sewer service rate structure was changed?
The City adopted the current rate schedule in 2011.
Why does the rate structure need to change?
State law requires a public agency, such as the City of Chico, set rates and levy charges that are sufficient to cover the cost to provide sewer service, including maintenance, operations, replacement, and improvements. Aging infrastructure replacement needs, and rising operating costs are the primary factors. The proposed rate structure collects a portion of revenue via fixed charges and a portion via volumetric (or use) charges. This will improve overall equity and fairness of the rates because costs will better reflect the actual cost of service to each customer. The City of Chico remains dedicated to keeping costs and customer bills as low as possible.
What is the process for sewer service charges to be changed?
Chico City Council will hold a public hearing on January 17, 2023 or as soon thereafter. This hearing will consider adoption of the proposed charges. At the time of the hearing, the Council will hear and consider all written protests and public comments. After the public hearing, if a majority of the property owners or customers of record of the effected parcels submit written protests in opposition to the proposed rate increases, they will not be imposed. If a majority written protest is not received, the Council may adopt the proposed changes, though it is not obligated to.
How do I protest the proposed charges?
Owners of record of real property who pay sewer rates, as well as customers who will be directly responsible for paying the charge, may file a written protest against the proposed rate adjustments. Only one written protest per parcel shall be counted in calculating the majority protest as explained above. Written protests will be treated as public records once opened.
Written protests may be mailed to the City Clerk at PO BOX 3420 Chico CA 95927 or delivered in person to the City Clerk at 411 Main Street Chico CA 95928. Protests will be received up until close of business (5:00 PM) on the date of the public hearing. Protests may also be submitted at the Council Meeting before the close of the public hearing.
To be counted, protests must include: the rate or charge being protested, your name, parcel number and/or service address, and your signature. Objections submitted by email or other electronic means will not be counted as formal written protests.
Can I ever be charged more than the approved rates?
No – the City is only able to charge the rates approved through this Prop 218 process. Any future changes to rates would require another Prop 218 process.
Commercial Customer FAQs
I’m a Commercial Customer, how are my rates changing?
Proposed rates include a fixed charge of $26.84 per Equivalent Dwelling Unit (EDU) for your particular property or business, plus a smaller volumetric rate based on average monthly winter water use.
Measuring commercial customer’s wastewater by EDU is new for Chico, but it is an industry standard commonly used today by sewer utilities.
What is a Equivalent Dwelling Unit (EDU)?
1 EDU is equal to the average wastewater strength and flow from a typical residential home.
Effluent strength is a major cost of wastewater treatment. Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Total Suspended Solids (TSS) are how strength is measured.
Commercial customers with larger amounts of effluent (based on average winter water use) and BOD and TSS strength (based on industry standards) will be assigned more EDUs. Those with lower effluent and strength factors will be assigned fewer EDUs.
EDUs will be recalculated each spring (based on the prior winter month average flows) and will remain in effect until recalculated the following spring.
How do I know how many EDUs are assigned to my commercial property?
Click here for a complete list of estimated EDUs for each commercial customer and search by your address:
Will my number of EDUs always stay the same?
No, EDU numbers can change each year (likely in the spring) using the last winter (DEC-MAR) monthly averages.
How is my number of EDUs calculated?
Winter water use (December through March) from your most recent water bills and the estimated effluent strength factors for your business type are the basis for calculating your EDUs.
Click here for the complete formula, and instructions on how to estimate your EDUs: