Budget FAQs

What is the sanitary sewer and surface water management (SWM) rate increase?

+ $1.35 (3%) per month sanitary sewer rate increase

+ $0.50 (6%) per month SWM fee increase

= $1.85 (3.47%) per month combined sewer and SWM rate increase for average residential customer

The increases are shared proportionally between Clean Water Services and its member Cities. Clean Water Services sets the minimum sewer and SWM rates. The member Cities may implement additional charges to meet local and capital operating costs including Right of Way Fees ranging from 0-5%.

The rate increases the average residential customer's bill by $1.85 per month. This still makes the average bill about 50% less than an electric bill, 60% less than a cable bill and 50% less than a cell phone bill. An interruption in these other services is generally inconvenient; an interruption in wastewater services could be catastrophic.

The System Development Charges (SDCs) per equivalent dwelling unit (EDU) and equivalent service unit (ESU) are:

  • Sanitary = $5,800 ($150 increase)
  • SWM = $560 ($15 increase)
Previous and Current Monthly Charges for an Average Household

Based on average monthly water usage of 8 ccf (ccf = hundred cubic feet or 748 gallons) 

Charges Previous 2018-19 Increase Current 2019-20
Sanitary Sewer BASE Portion (65% approx) $29.16 $0.87 $30.03
Sanitary Sewer USE Portion (35% approx) $1.93/ccf $0.06 $1.99/ccf
Average Monthly Sanitary Bill (based on 8 ccf/month usage) $44.60 $1.35 $45.95
Monthly Surface Water Management Bill $8.75 $0.50 $9.25
Combined Average Monthly Bill $53.35 $1.85 $55.20
Why is a rate increase necessary?

To expand, replace and upgrade aging sanitary infrastructure. For 49 years the community's investment in wastewater treatment has paid dividends for the Tualatin River. Continued investment ($106.9 million) is necessary to pay for the upgrade and expansion of Clean Water Services' four wastewater treatment facilities, 42 pump stations and 853 miles of sewer pipes.

To expand, replace and upgrade aging drainage system and control pollution. Clean Water Services and City crews manage 537 miles of storm sewers as part of the public drainage system for a growing population to improve water quality, protect fish habitat and manage flooding ($5.1 million).

To comply with federal and state pollution control standards. To meet some of the most stringent water quality requirements, the community's wastewater is cleaned to a higher standard than 98% of other utilities in the nation.

Where does my rate payment go?

The monthly rate for the average customer starting July 1, 2019 is $55.20.

$26.50 (48%) Capital program including construction and improvement of sanitary and surface water infrastructure. 
$23.73 (43%) Operating costs including staff, utilities and resources to operate and maintain the sanitary and surface water system infrastructure.
$4.97 (9%) Debt including principal and interest on sanitary bonds for current and future investments.
$55.20 Total
How is Clean Water Services reducing the long-term costs of the utility?

CWS has reinvented the utility mindset to bring value to our ratepayers by building workforce capacity, investing in lean approaches and serving as a technology incubator and accelerator for positive impact across our region, the nation and throughout the world.

Energy Efficiency. The District's energy investments pay big dividends, not only for the environment but also for the bottom line. Some of these energy-reduction efforts include:

  • Saved at least $300,000 per year from energy reduction projects since 2009.
  • Built a large solar energy facility that will save $400,000 in energy costs during its lifetime. This project follows two other solar projects which will also lead to savings.
  • Measuring and tracking energy use, and implementing an energy savings plan as an official Energy Star Partner — a program coordinated by the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Improving operating efficiency at our four wastewater treatment facilities — part of the Energy Trust's Energy Improvement Program.
    • Our Rock Creek and Durham facilities produce 25 - 50% of their annual energy demand through cogeneration and solar power generation.

Nutrient Recovery. We recover nutrients through the treatment process that can be reused. These processes save time, money and capacity.

  • These facilities enhance the treatment process by removing phosphorus and ammonia from recycle flows to the mainstream wastewater flow that would otherwise have to be retreated.
  • CWS uses sensors and controls to provide optimal services to our region, including wastewater operations and acting as an influencer of smart stormwater systems.
Why are rates different from city to city?

Clean Water Services and its member cities adopted a new rate model in 2008 that provides stable funding for regional services and provides flexibility for the District and its member cities to provide local services. Clean Water Services' Board of Directors sets the regional portion of the sanitary sewer rate and the SWM rate for urban Washington County customers. Washington County cities set and retain the local portion of the sanitary sewer rate. The SWM rate income is shared proportionally between Clean Water Services and its member cities.

To meet additional local needs, the cities may add and retain a surcharge or Right-of-Way (franchise) fee to their local sanitary sewer rate and/or the regional SWM rate. In the City of Hillsboro the sanitary Right-of-Way fee is 3.5%, in the cities of Sherwood, Beaverton and Tigard the Right-of-Way fee is 5%. For more information on these additional fees please contact your city.

How does new development pay for connecting to the sanitary sewer and surface water management system?

For each new dwelling, the developer pays a one-time fee to connect to the sanitary sewer and surface water management systems. These connection fees, known as system development charges (SDCs), reflect the value of existing infrastructure and future capacity requirements. To ensure new construction pays a reasonable share of capital costs related to growth, Clean Water Services recommended a $150 increase (2.7%) in the one-time System Development Charge (SDC) per equivalent dwelling unit (EDU). The 2019-20 sanitary sewer SDC increased from $5,650 to $5,800 per EDU. The SWM SDC increased from $545 to $560.

Why is the sewer bill higher than the water bill?

It costs more to clean wastewater than to provide pure tap water because the process involves a series of mechanical, biological and chemical treatments. All the chemicals used to clean wastewater must be removed before the water is released to the Tualatin River. Finally, the biosolids that settle out must be processed and recycled. Every day, Clean Water Services facilities clean an average of 60 million gallons of wastewater and produce 30 dry tons of biosolids. Clean Water Services' advanced (tertiary) treatment exceeds standards of nearly every other wastewater facility in the nation. The cleaned wastewater actually improves the water quality of the Tualatin River.

How can I help control my sewer bill?

You can reduce sewer charges by using water wisely. Part of your sewer bill is based on the amount of wastewater a household produces. The usage portion of the charge is calculated from the customer's water usage the previous winter (November-April). By using winter averages, the customer is not charged more in the summer for outdoor watering, since that water doesn't go into the wastewater system. A portion of the charge, the base rate, reflects the fixed costs of service and is not affected by water usage. Conserving water can lower the sewer bill.

Every year, from January through June, Clean Water Services goes through a budget process to establish rates for the following fiscal year. Public meeting notices are published in local newspapers, inviting the public to comment on proposed rates before the budget is adopted. Before any rate change, the District sends media releases to local newspapers and billing inserts to customers to notify customers of rate increases.

Clean Water Services' Board of Directors adopts the District's budget and rates. Citizens can testify regarding the 2019-20 proposed budget and rates at the Budget Committee Meeting on May 3, 2019, or the Budget Hearing on June 18, 2019.

Can I receive a credit for installing stormwater-friendly landscaping?

In order to keep your Surface Water Management (SWM) fee one of the lowest in the region, Clean Water Services does not administer a rebate program. Instead, residents can take advantage of the Clean Water Hero landscaping assistance program. Sign up to receive up to three hours of on-site technical assistance to help you create a sustainable stormwater landscape that will reduce polluted runoff from your property and maintain the health of our local waterways. Our expert will create a design that will increase your property value and enhance the livability of our Tualatin River Watershed. Whether it's installing a rain garden, choosing the right native plant or other sustainable living tip, we'll help you become a Clean Water Hero and the talk of your neighborhood.

Is the public notified about rate increases? How can I get involved?

Every year, from January through June, Clean Water Services goes through a budget process to establish rates for the following fiscal year. Public meeting notices are published in local newspapers, inviting the public to comment on proposed rates before the budget is adopted. Before any rate change, the District sends media releases to local newspapers and billing inserts to customers to notify customers of rate increases.

Clean Water Services Budget Committee

Meeting to review proposed budget and make recommendations to the Board of Directors
9 am, Friday, May 3, 2019
Clean Water Services Administrative Building Complex
2550 SW Hillsboro Highway in Hillsboro

Clean Water Services Board of Directors

Public Hearing to consider and adopt Budget & Rates
10 am, Tuesday, June 18, 2018 
Public Services Building
155 N. First Avenue in Hillsboro

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