Water and Sewer (Wastewater) Rate Study
The City of Tulare provides water and sewer services to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers located within the City. In December 2015, Willdan Financial Services was retained to perform an analysis of the existing water and sewer utilities and to recommend rate adjustments for 2016-2024.
Rate Study Background
The goal of the study is to ensure that the revenues cover the cost of services, meet the debt coverage and reserve requirements, and provide revenue for capital improvements.
The last sewer rate study was completed in 2009 and the basis of the study was to ensure that the City could cover the debt service payments on the 2009 Sewer Revenue Bond. The 2009 Sewer Revenue Bond completed the construction of the industrial plant, designed the domestic plant improvements, and constructed a domestic and industrial sewer line. The rates were adopted for three years (2009-2011). The residential flat rate has remained at $42/month since 2011.
The last water rate study was completed in 2012 and is the basis for the current tiered rate structure in place today. The rate study was completed by Willdan Financial Services and primarily focused on bringing revenue in line with operating and maintenance costs. The rates were adopted for five years (2012-2017) with the last increase scheduled to take effect in January 2017. Using the January 2017 rate, the average residential water bill (estimating 13,000 gallons of water used) is $25.47/month.
Why do a rate study?
The City of Tulare is committed to maintaining critical infrastructure and complying with all applicable laws, rules and regulations to deliver safe, dependable and efficient water and sewer services to our customers. The City strives to maintain the affordability of these services. The City needs to increase rates for water and sewer services in order to cover rising costs as well as planned capital improvements to the water, sewer and wastewater systems. The proposed water and sewer rates will ensure that the utilities collect sufficient revenue to cover fixed expenses, fund capital improvements through revenue bonding, and build up cash reserves to fund ongoing repair and replacement of the water and sewer systems to maintain reliable service in future years.
The basis of the rate study is the Rehabilitation and Economic Advancement Program (REAP). Over the next five years, the City has planned capital improvements to the water system to restore system’s capacity, to operate in compliance with the City’s volume and pressure standards, and to meet current demands. Planned improvements include the addition of seven (7) new water wells, three (3) water storage tanks, replacement/repair of five (5) miles of water pipe per year, funding for groundwater sustainability mandated by State law, and other infrastructure improvements (existing well site upgrades, electrical panels, SCADA, etc). In addition, the City has planned capital improvements to the City’s Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) and sewer system. Planned improvements include major operations and maintenance projects to the WWTF, regulatory improvements to maintain compliance with State and Federal mandates, replacement/repair of five (5) miles of sewer pipe per year and other infrastructure upgrades (lift stations, pumps, electrical panels, SCADA, etc.). The water and sewer line projects will be done in conjunction with the five year streets projects.
Other Related Documents
City of Tulare: Hydrological Enterprise Fund Program (HEP)
Carollo: Matheny Soultz Water System Improvements Technical Memorandum No. 1
Ewers Engineering: Wastewater, Sewer Collection, and Storm Drain Utilities Ten Year Financial Plan
Ewers Engineering: Capital Improvements Projects Analysis, Type I and II Projects for the City of Tulare WWTP
If you have any questions about the proposed rate changes or would like to see more information about data used for the study, please contact René Miller at (559) 684-4264 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday.