Hillsboro approves higher water rates
Water rates will rise by up to 20 percent for some of Hillsboro's businesses, and by smaller amounts for single-family residential households, starting in 2019.
The Hillsboro Utilities Commission approved rate increases for the New Year, the city announced this week. Increases will also affect water customers in Cornelius, Gaston and the L.A. Water Cooperative in Laurelwood, which buy their water wholesale from Hillsboro.
The rate increases vary by customer class. The largest increase is for irrigation, which will see a 20 percent hike. Multi-family residential, commercial and public entities will shoulder a 14.7 percent increase — more than 4 percentage points less than what was originally proposed, as the commission decided on a somewhat smaller increase "after receiving input from Hillsboro community members during the rate setting process," the city stated in a news release.
Increases for single-family residential, nonprofit and industrial customers will stay in the single-digit percentages. Single-family residential customers will see a 5 percent increase, nonprofits will experience a 6 percent increase and industrial water bills will go up by 8.5 percent.
The typical single-family residential customer will see their bill increase by about $1.61, according to the City of Hillsboro.
The water rate increase is greater for Hillsboro's wholesale customers. Cornelius' water rate increase is approved at 9.2 percent. Gaston and Laurelwood will get a 10.9 percent bump in rates.
The new rates will become effective Feb. 1, 2019.
Increases to water rates for 2019 were recommended in a water rate study conducted earlier this year. The city attributes these increases largely to the need to fund the Willamette Water Supply Program, as well as maintenance and upgrades to the Joint Water Commission's treatment plant south of Forest Grove and to Hillsboro's own municipal water system. Overhead costs are also increasing for Hillsboro due to the need to comply with state regulations, according to the city.
"The proposed 2019 water rate adjustments varied by customer class in order to ensure each class is paying their fair share based on how customers use the City's water system and how much water they use," the city's news release stated in part.
A public hearing was held to discuss the proposed rate increases last month.
The Willamette Water Supply Program is a joint initiative between the City of Hillsboro and Tualatin Valley Water District to tap the Willamette River to serve as the water supply for both providers. The system, which is expected to come online in the mid-2020s, is being designed to supply enough water to meet projected demand for decades to come.
Hillsboro currently draws its water from the upper Tualatin River, as well as Barney Reservoir and Henry L. Hagg Lake west of Gaston during the summer months.
TVWD is a wholesale customer of the Portland Water Bureau.