Robbins sewer rates increase
Sewer bills in the rural Sutter County community of Robbins will be going up, the final step in correcting a long-running problem for its 300 or so residents.
As of July 1, the bill will go up to $73.50 per month, up from the $55 residents have been paying for a few years now.
Sutter County supervisors approved the higher bills at a special meeting Tuesday night in Robbins, a town of modest means along Highway 113 between Highway 99 and Knights Landing.
Supervisor James Gallagher said voting to do so wasn't a joyful affair, but necessary to pay for ongoing costs for a $1.4 million sewer system for the community received through a state grant.
"It's tough with small communities because there are only so many people to pass around the cost," Gallagher said, adding state requirements for sewer discharge also make the situation more difficult because they're applied to all systems equally.
Frank Alonso, a longtime Robbins resident who has chaired an ad hoc county committee studying the issue, said the higher rates will be a hardship for some people.
"On the other hand, we have a brand new sewer, we got a grant to stick it in and we've got to pay for it," he said. "There's no free lunch."
A presentation at Tuesday's meeting showed what ratepayers in other nearby small sewer districts pay. Gallagher said it was $82.90 in Penn Valley and as much as $107 in Auburn.
Even if it costs more, the new system will probably be more fondly thought of than the old one. In addition to backups, the old system was at risk of cracking and affecting the local water supply.
Fixing the wastewater system is only half the equation, though, as county officials are also working on a plan to upgrade Robbins' water service.
High arsenic levels make the water's safety questionable, but Alonso said the state has given the county more time to find a solution. Gallagher said new water service is likely to come from the Golden State Water Co., but the matter is being held up by the state Public Utilities Commission.