How much will your water bill go up? Here’s what Seattle Public Utilities is proposing

That’s the slide deck the Seattle City Council‘s Public Utilities and Neighborhoods Committee will see during its meeting at 2 pm next Tuesday (April 14th), as it begins reviewing a water-rate increase proposed by Seattle Public Utilities, which just sent this preview:

In keeping with a strategic business plan approved by City Council last year, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is proposing drinking water rate increases of 1.7 percent for 2016 and 2.7 percent for 2017. The business plan aims at capping average rates for all SPU services — drinking water, sewer, drainage, garbage and recycling — to an annual average of 4.6 percent through the year 2020.

A drainage and wastewater rate proposal will be considered by Council later this year. That proposal also is expected to fit within the 4.6 percent average annual rate cap.

The Council will begin consideration of the water rate proposal next week.

Principal drivers of the proposed water rate increases include updated inflation assumptions and new investments identified in the strategic business plan such as preparing for water supply and utility system threats that may occur from climate change and developing a plan to better protect the drinking water system from earthquakes.

There was no increase in drinking water rates in 2015. Under today’s proposal, monthly bills for a typical single-family home would go from $38.93 this year to $39.68 in 2016 and $41.13 in 2017. Rates for a typical convenience store would go from $95.80 in 2015, to $97.35 in 2016 and $99.80 in 2017. A medium hotel could see an increase from $7,379 this year, to $7,486 in 2016 and $7,625 in 2017.

Last August, the Council adopted a six-year strategic business plan for Seattle Public Utilities, which maintains and improves essential services while holding annual rate increases — which had averaged almost 7 percent per year over the previous 10 years — to an annual average of 4.6 percent.

The strategic business plan was guided by an independent customer review panel that met 28 times beginning April 2013, and by an efficiency expert who scrutinized SPU’s business practices. The public had a say in the plan, too, through an extensive public outreach process that received input from residents and businesses throughout the city.

Seattle’s water system is wholly funded by rate and fee revenues related to water service. In any given year, these rates and fees must be sufficient to pay the total costs of the water system and meet adopted financial targets.

23 Replies to "How much will your water bill go up? Here's what Seattle Public Utilities is proposing"

  • m April 10, 2015 (1:02 pm)

    I want a cut of the Cedar Grove revenues then.

  • dsa April 10, 2015 (1:15 pm)

    I suppose the wholesale rate is by contract and cannot be “just” changed like they will do this to us Seattle folks, but I didn’t the part about changing the wholesale rates.

  • WS_Christopher April 10, 2015 (1:36 pm)

    averages rates are what?! My water bill is $75/month on average and there’s only myself and my gf at the house. No car washes, no lawn to water and we have a rain barrel setup for plants. I live off Alki on 30th at the connection of the WSBridge and Admiral

  • Admirallie April 10, 2015 (1:44 pm)

    Are those really the average rates? Our bill for w/s/g is usually just over $100 per month and we are 2 adults with no kids, no yard, no washer/dryer, we do NOT shower every day, and we have the smallest possible size of each can.

  • Scott April 10, 2015 (1:48 pm)

    That would be 23 present total in the next 5 years. My wages will not be going up that much in the next 10 let alone in the next 5 years.

  • Cory April 10, 2015 (1:57 pm)

    I wish the city didn’t assume that for every gallon of water you use a gallon goes down the drain into the sewer. The sewer fees on my bill are the same as or greater than my water bill because of this assumption!

    This drives me crazy because more than 50% of my water eventually ends up in my yard, garden or orchard and not in the sewer (we recycle grey water and maintain a 600 sq/ft greenhouse and 1/3 acre garden).

  • Kara April 10, 2015 (1:58 pm)

    Christopher if you divide that in half then you are a little below average for one person.

  • Smitty April 10, 2015 (2:36 pm)

    “Christopher if you divide that in half then you are a little below average for one person.”

    The article states:

    “a typical single-family home would go from $38.93 this year to $39.68 in 2016 and $41.13 in 2017”

    What am I missing, Kara?

  • ChefJoe April 10, 2015 (2:40 pm)

    @Cory, are you in a SF residental setting ?

    They base summer rates on your winter usage to “subract” for yard and garden diversion.

  • m April 10, 2015 (3:20 pm)

    I live in a 5 star build green town house with no yard and conservative water usuage and my water/sewer is way more than the “average”

  • trickycoolj April 10, 2015 (3:51 pm)

    Single townhouse owner and same here no gardening and it’s around $58/mo. What’s even more idiotic I found out they charge the High Point community thousands in storm water sewer fees when the entire neighborhood has bioswales and natural drainage that doesn’t even go into the SPU system!

  • Kara April 10, 2015 (4:22 pm)

    $75 for two people. I guess I’m assuming when they say single family household it means the building/residence. So one person would be $38.93.

  • Kara April 10, 2015 (4:39 pm)

    $75 for two people seems normal ($37.50 per person). I was assuming that SF meant structure/building, so one person would average $38.93.

  • Neighbor April 10, 2015 (4:40 pm)

    I agree with Scott. The cost of living is going up too high! In the past few years since 2008 my wages have gone down and yet to bounce back. I like living in seattle but feeling the pressure to move out. What are the politicians thinking!? I have written to Rassmussen in the past about this but received not even an acknowledgement. Also, I’m assuming the average cost per month is not factoring the sewer charge. Is that correct? I am at the low end of usage but even that seems too much for me.

  • jwright April 10, 2015 (4:58 pm)

    At least we still have water.

  • Rick April 10, 2015 (5:20 pm)

    Years ago my friend had a small brewery (before they got real popular)where approx. 95% of the water went out as product. It took him years of fighting with the utility to rectify it. Princes,all of them.

  • Marie M April 10, 2015 (6:45 pm)

    The rule of thumb used by some rental property owners is that a single tenant typically uses about $60/month worth of water. Each additional person in the household adds another $40/month to the bill. I used to own a rental property in Kirkland. For a while I had a single tenant and when she moved out a couple moved in. The bills ran pretty close to that. I don’t know how the city comes up with the $38.83/month for a single family home. Houses don’t use water, people do. A more useful number would be the amount of water needed per person.

  • Yup April 10, 2015 (7:04 pm)

    They should be talking about the average SPU bill, not just the water rates. Water is relatively inexpensive but, as noted above, sewer and garbage are outrageous. There’s two of us in a single family house, our SPU bill is almost always $250 per billing cycle ($125/month)

  • beef April 10, 2015 (10:03 pm)

    yes, please remember the bill you get from SPU is your utility bill and includes water, sewer, and garbage. sewer is by far the most expensive and most of that goes to king county.

  • Mary Bentler April 11, 2015 (8:15 pm)

    I agree the garbage rates are unduly high and have sugested that they could cut some cost by designating pickup on streets only. In our neighborhood they drive every street and alley. Some alleys are dead end so they have to back out as well. Time is money and this would save.

  • Ttt April 11, 2015 (9:14 pm)

    The garbage and sewer part of the bill is what kills us… We have the smallest can for a family of four and when it’s yellow we let it mellow… The rates are outrageous. I think the city is making a fare cut from our recycling and cedar grove contribution…

  • ca April 14, 2015 (10:30 am)

    omg what a joke. as if the bills aren’t insane enough! glad the big wigs are getting a 6 figure salary, while I bust my butt and make ends meat.

  • Andres April 14, 2015 (9:53 pm)

    Garbage is (relatively) cheap. I pay $24/mo, I have the smallest compost bin and smallest garbage can. I’m adding a compost bin to the backyard, which means I can get rid of city compost and further reduce it to $20/mo.

    My water is $41/mo, for a SFH with four people in it. Pretty much what they estimated.

    And then there’s sewer (which is based upon the water meter): $65/mo. Wtf?

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