Commitment to Water and Sewer Infrastructure Causes Increase to Utility RatesJanuary 17, 2019
One of the greatest challenges facing Lakewood today is the need to support significant upgrades to our unique 100-year-old water and sewer system. As Lakewood enters its second century, it is the City’s objective to balance system reliability, sustainability, financial integrity, and customer affordability while working towards full Clean Water Act compliance.
To support necessary system improvements, Lakewood City Council voted to approve an increase to water and sewer rates at its final meeting of 2018. The five-year rate plan approved will fund several improvements, including the new High Rate Treatment facility next to the wastewater plant, designed to treat high flow from storm events and expected to become operational by 2022. The five-year rate period coincides with the renewal of Lakewood’s NPDES permit to operate the treatment plant and sewer system and the first five years of Lakewood’s Integrated Wet Weather Improvement Plan that will outline the improvements required under the Clean Water Act.
Water rates will increase by approximately five and one-half percent and sewer rates will increase by 10 percent annually. Residents may expect a combined increase of nearly 7.8% annually for the next five years. The 2019 water rates will increase from $6.76 per one hundred cubic feet of water (ccf) to $7.13, and sewer rates from $6.82 to $7.50 per one hundred cubic feet of metered water consumption. In real terms, a typical residential bill of six ccf per month will increase from $81.49 in 2018 to $87.82 in 2019. One hundred cubic feet of water or 1 ccf equates 748 gallons. Therefore, the average household in Lakewood uses almost 4,500 gallons a month.
For any homeowner with permanent disability or 65 years of age or older with a total household income below $35,000 per year, the Homestead Exemption is available. The Homestead Exemption rate grants a 45% water discount and a 25% sewer discount for participants. The Homestead Exemption water rate will increase from $3.72 to $3.92 per ccf and the sewer rate will increase from $5.12 to $5.63 per ccf.
“Unlike most Cleveland inner-ring suburbs, we operate our own drinking water system, as well as our own sewer and waste treatment system,” Mayor Mike Summers said. “As is the case in many aspects of our city, we have to upgrade, replace, and continue to reinvest in our future. Our underground assets of water and sewer pipes are chief among these investments.”
The increases will support nearly $58 million in watermain replacements and sewer capital improvements over the next five years including construction of the high rate treatment facility, digester and code upgrades at the wastewater treatment plant, and manhole separation during pavement restoration. Several streets will see water main replacements in 2019, including sections of Lakewood Heights Boulevard, Lake Avenue, and Atkins Avenue.
To stay up to date on Lakewood’s water and sewer initiatives, please visit http://www.onelakewood.com/cleanwaterlakewood.