New water, sewer rate structure to reach residents soon

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published November 18, 2019

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Clinton Township Public Services Director Mary Bednar said a recent water change rate implementation should present water and sewer customers with a more straightforward manner of reviewing their bills and usage.

On Sept. 9, the Clinton Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved a five-year water and sewer rate plan that eliminates usage minimums. Now, Bednar said customers should experience an updated structure that should help “simplify” the numbers.

She said the first bill reflecting the new rate structure was expected to be sent to customers Nov. 14, so by the end of the month, everyone should have received it.

Previously, the township water rate structure cost $3.29 per unit for a minimum of five units, in addition to a $4.31 fixed monthly fee from the Great Lakes Water Authority. Sewer usage charges cost $6.12 per unit for a minimum of five units, including a Macomb County interceptor fee of $4.36 per month.

Now, water rates will cost $3.33 while sewer rates will cost $6.49 — an approximate total increase of 1.4% for customers in the fiscal year ending in 2020. The model proposes the same increase for a total of five years, until 2024.

This new structure was implemented over the past year. Bednar said that in the past, fees came from different agencies or providers, while a minimum bill existed. Now, customers’ usage combined with various meter sizes will dictate their costs.

While it doesn’t take into account all fixed fees, going by meter size creates a more “fair and equitable” system. Meter sizes reflect demand too, so those with smaller meters pay less because they affect the overall water delivery system in a smaller way.

Along with accountants and engineers reaching an accord on the new rates, Bednar said the international nonprofit American Water Works Association — which includes leading worldwide experts on water and sewer rates — helped guide the conversation by comparing old rates with now present ones. Numerous southeast Michigan communities look to the AWWA’s guidance, she said.

The readiness-to-serve charge will depend on varying factors. The industrial complex will have more demand because their meters are bigger. If a family uses less water overall, that will likely provide a “direct correlation” with what people view on their bills.

Previously, a five-unit minimum was what Bednar called sort of an all-inclusive readiness-to-serve charge. Now, costs are broken down to better show how much water is being used by unit. It allows for residents and businesses to better anticipate month-to-month usage and rates.

The five-year projection is also a means of preventing severe rate spikes, such as how dry or wet summers can severely impact how much water people either do or do not utilize. While drastic events change the projections, Bednar said this linear increase makes the most sense at this time.

It’s a structure that has been reviewed by numerous sets of eyes over the years. She said that since the board approved the new rate structure, it has been “received very well” by the general public. Although, it can still be confusing.

“These were a lot of the questions we were getting from a lot of residents, on minimum usage and conservation,” said Bednar, who became director seven years ago. “There’s been many years to say, ‘How does this work?’ It’s really because our customers asked for it.”