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Average household will pay 3.5% more for Clean Water Services starting July 1; cities can tack on surcharges for collection systems and replacement projects.

PMG PHOTO BY PETER WONG - Washington County commissioners, acting as the governing board of Clean Water Services, on Tuesday, June 18, when they approved higher sewer and storm water rates in the county's urban areas for the year starting July 1.Sewer and storm water rates in urban areas of Washington County will go up by an average of 3.5% in the year starting July 1.

County commissioners, acting as the governing board of Clean Water Services, approved the new rates Tuesday, June 18. Clean Water Services is a regional agency separate from county government.

For a home that uses 800 cubic feet per month — based on average winter use — the monthly sewer rate will go up 3% from $44.60 to $45.95. The monthly storm water rate will go up 5.7% from $8.75 to $9.25.

The combined monthly rate will go up 3.5% from $53.35 to $55.20.

There are about 748 gallons per 100 cubic feet.

The sewer system development charge will go up from $5.650 to $5,800, and the storm drain development charge, from $545 to $560, for an equivalent dwelling unit.

These rates apply to unincorporated areas. City councils can adopt these recommended rates. They can charge their own amounts for systems development charges and tack on fee surcharges for their own collection systems and replacement projects.

Although the population covered by Clean Water Services has grown in the past two decades, the ratio of employees per 10,000 population has remained steady at 6.06 per 10,000, compared with 6.3 per 10,000 in 1999. This ratio was once 9 per 10,000 population before the agency underwent a far-reaching transformation 20 years ago.

The 2019-20 budget is the first for Diane Taniguchi-Dennis, the deputy who became chief executive officer last year when Bill Gaffi retired after 24 years.

"I think we take for granted what happens at Clean Water Services," said Tony Weller, chairman of the budget committee for the agency, just before county commissioners approved the budget and fees. "That is a good thing."

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