View the current rates for sewer service.
Q: My sewer bill is higher - what's the rate increase all about?
A: City Council adopted Ordinance # 6197 which includes a sewer rate schedule for annual increase of 8% that began October 1 , 2011 thru October 1, 2015 (RMC 12.16). Prior October 1, 2011 , the rate increase of 4% was implemented each year on October 1 beginning on October 1, 2005. There was an expansive public process for the sewer rate increases - many public meetings, including NAB meetings, were held and the Council had a public hearing prior to adopting the ordinance that reflected the annual increases.
Q: Why do we need a sewer rate increase?
A: The sewer lines that serve Reno are aging and they require maintenance. There are 82 miles of sewer lines that are more than 60 years old, meaning they could potentially fail. Another 104 miles of lines are 40 to 60 years old, and 25 percent of these could fail. The backlog for repairing the old pipes totals around 108 miles of sewer line. Other large diameter interceptor pipes also need rehabilitation.
Q: How was the decision made to increase the sewer rates?
A: City staff presented the proposed increase to the Financial Advisory Board and the Sewer Rate Advisory Board, both comprised of Reno citizens, as well as to all Neighborhood Advisory Boards. The rate increase with options was presented to the Reno City Council, who approved it based on staff recommendations and reviews by both the Financial Advisory Board and the Sewer Rate Advisory Board.
Q: Why such a large increase?
A: With 100 percent of the 82 miles of older sewer lines at risk of failure, staff from the Public Works and Finance Departments identified the need for approximately $20 million annually to make the necessary repairs to these lines before serious damages take place. This investment now will save millions of dollars down the road by making these repairs before serious breaks in the lines occur or the repairs become more complex.
Q: How does this rate compare to other cities in the region?
A: Prior to October 1, 2005 the rate for a single family residence was about $19.40 a month. A survey of 37 cities in the western United States found that the average sewer bill was $42 a month. With this increase, the City of Reno sewer rate still falls in the middle when compared to those communities and to other cities in Nevada.
Q: What are the sewer funds used for?
A: The City’s sewer enterprise fund pays for the operation and maintenance of the two sewer plants as well as all of the sewer lines, storm drains and ditches. It also pays for effluent reuse on golf courses and regional parks. Since Reno and Sparks discharge effluent to the Truckee River the fund also supports projects to improve water quality through environmental improvements to the river such as river restoration. The City has contributed funds to help match grant monies for the Nature Conservancy’s River Restoration projects. These projects help ensure that the river’s water quality is maintained downstream of the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility.
Q: Why weren’t these repairs made before the situation got to be so critical?
A: The City began a comprehensive condition assessment of sewer lines and interceptors more than five years ago. The process is very time-consuming even with the modern technology now available for conducting such assessments. Prior to this review initiated in early 2000, the technology used to identify and assess conditions was not accurate or as useful as it is today.
Q: Why did the City chose an out of state vendor to process sewer payments?
A: The City has approximately 67,000 sewer accounts with associated payments that must be processed on a quarterly basis. In continuing efforts to maximize efficiency and streamline processes, the City began looking at a third party processing service for sewer payments. It was discovered that there were no local companies that provided this service. Fortunately, the City was able to find a company, BankUp Corporation in San Jose, California, that provides this specific service to other government utilities, at a reasonable rate. At the same time this system was implemented, the City enhanced the online system for making sewer payments. As more customers use the online system for making sewer payments, fewer checks will need to be processed using the electronic scanning of payments in San Jose, which will reduce this cost.