Marysville sewer rates to rise by year's end
After more than four years of negotiating, planning and back-and-forth communications with the state's water quality control board, Marysville's sewer services are on track to follow 21st century regulations.
But the changes will be costly.
On Tuesday, the City Council held a public hearing, and voted to adopt new rates that will increase the average residential bill from $29.79 to $36.80 per month.
The change is the result of a 2008 cease and desist order from the California Regional Water Quality Control Board that found fault with Marysville's sewage treatment methods.
Residents will see the change reflected in their bill before the end of the year.
"Nobody wants to pay more for the same service," said Marysville resident Aleta Zak. "But my feeling is, they (the city) are over a barrel and there really is no choice."
Improvements necessary to implement the state-approved plan are expected to cost the city $28.2 million.
They will involve the installation of pipes and machinery necessary to pump sewage to a newly upgraded plant in Linda.
Costs for treating city wastewater will be a portion of Linda County Water District's expenses for operating the facility.
"This is something we have to live with," Councilwoman Christina Billeci said on Thursday. "I understand how people are frustrated. The cost of things keeps inching up."
Notices about the proposed change and public hearing were mailed to property owners in late July, along with instructions for protesting the measure.
Recipients of more than half the 3,805 notices would have had to protest the measure, either by mail or during the hearing, in order to prevent the increase.
But on Tuesday, city officials announced there had been only a smattering of negative responses.
A handful of property owners spoke out against the measure at Tuesday's hearing, noting they were not aware until recently of the proposed change.
The Appeal-Democrat began reporting on the issue in 2008, shortly after the city received the cease and desist order.
"I think people woke up when they got the letter," Zak said. "I guess people will be angry, but if you want to run a municipal system, this is what you have to deal with."
The initial sanction from the state demanded that Marysville move its sewer disposal ponds out of the Feather and Yuba rivers flood channel.
The location of the ponds, which collect wastewater from the city's plant at the end of the treatment process was considered an environmental hazard because they can be flooded during very heavy winter storms.
An initial study of the problem considered moving the sewage ponds or upgrading the city's treatment methods at the city's plant to allow discharge to the rivers. Those were found to be more costly than hooking up to an existing plant, thereby creating a regional facility.
And the state oversight agency urged a regional solution.
A proposal to pool resources with Wheatland and Beale Air Force Base on a larger regional plant three years ago was short-lived, and officials looked to Linda Water, which was in the process of a large sewage plant improvement project.