Potential Rate Adjustments to Turlock Sewer Services Q&A

Protecting Water Quality, Public Health and the Environment

The City of Turlock provides 24-hour emergency response 365 days per year for all residential, commercial, and industrial users of the city sewer system. The Department manages a sewer collection system with approximately “225” (2013 Sewer System Master Plan) miles pipelines to serve Turlock residents. Additionally, the Regional Water Quality Control facility treats a portion of the City of Ceres wastewater as well as all of the waste from the Community Service Districts of Keyes and Denair.

A network of underground pipes, manholes, and other equipment carries sewage from homes, businesses, and industries to our wastewater treatment plant. There, it goes through multiple stages of treatment to remove contaminants. Once treated, the water is sent to the North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program for further beneficial use, like landscape irrigation.

The sewer system is there for residents every time they use a kitchen sink, flush a toilet, take a shower, or wash a load of laundry.

A well-maintained sewer system ensures that wastewater is effectively treated and disposed of, preventing health hazards and environmental contamination. Regular maintenance and timely upgrades reduce the risk of system failures and service disruptions, providing residents with consistent and reliable sewer services.

Yes. Proper treatment and disposal of wastewater helps protect local water bodies and the environment from pollution, supporting the overall health of the ecosystem. Funding these essential operations through sewer rates helps to ensure reliable, and sustainable sewer services to all residents, enhancing the overall quality of life in the community.

Funding from sewer rates pays for several critical components necessary for maintaining and improving the city's sewer system. These components include:

Operating and Maintenance (O&M) Costs: This covers the daily expenses of running the sewer system, such as salaries, benefits, supplies, chemicals, and maintenance services. Proper O&M ensures that the system functions reliably and efficiently.
Debt Service: This includes the repayment of loans and bonds that the city has taken out to finance major capital improvement projects. Debt service ensures that the city can continue to invest in necessary infrastructure upgrades and expansions.
Capital Improvement Projects: These are large-scale projects aimed at upgrading and expanding the sewer system to meet future demands. They include repairs, replacements, and enhancements to existing infrastructure, as well as new construction projects.
Reserves: Adequate reserve funds are essential for handling emergencies, unexpected repairs, and future capital needs. They provide a financial cushion that helps the city manage risks and maintain service levels during unforeseen events.

While operating costs have increased, sewer rates have not been updated in more than a decade. The City’s aging wastewater system requires more investment to meet service requirements. The current total annual costs are $26.3 million while the existing rate revenue is approximately $20.5 million. Additionally, operating expenses are projected to increase significantly in the coming years.

The approach is based on a three-step process:

  1. Financial Plan: Estimates the costs to be recovered from rates, including O&M, debt service, planned capital projects, and target fund balances.
  2. Cost-of-Service: Proportionally allocates revenue requirements to customer classes based on state law and industry standards.
  3. Rate Design: Considers the best rate structure to collect revenue from various types of customers.

Costs are allocated based on wastewater loadings to four parameters: Customer Costs, Flow Related Costs, Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) Costs, and Suspended Solids (SS) Costs. These costs are then allocated to customers based on their contribution to the wastewater treatment process.

The study suggests moving away from using fixture units as a proxy for sewer flow to using water usage, which is a better proxy. Residential customer wastewater flow is determined by winter water usage, while commercial and institutional customer wastewater flow is based on annual water usage. Industrial user rates are also being revised to remove the reserve capacity charge.

For Residents:
Many residents will see their rates decrease. These adjustments are designed to ensure our sewer system remains reliable and efficient, while complying with California's latest legal standards, including Proposition 218, to ensure a fair and transparent process.

For Industrial Customers:
Industrial customers will see an increase in rates. This adjustment is essential to meet our revenue needs, cover rising operating costs, and fund critical capital improvements. The rate increases ensure equitable cost distribution across all customer categories, supporting a sustainable and robust sewer system. These rates comply with California's latest legal standards, ensuring a fair and transparent process.

Revenue Needs: Ensuring reliable sewer services requires sufficient revenue to cover operational and maintenance costs. These adjustments will help generate the necessary funds to keep the system running smoothly.
Capital Improvements: ask David Huff to add a few sentences describing when the main facilities were put in place, the change in discharge requirements over the past few years, and the expected changes in the treatment process
Legal Compliance: By updating our rates, we ensure compliance with California law standards, including Proposition 218. This guarantees that the rate-setting process is fair, transparent, and legally sound.

We will have a rate calculator available for you to check your specific rates. The link will be provided soon.

The proposed rates are the outcome of the cost of service study, they weren’t designed to be competitive with the neighbors.

Residents and stakeholders can email contact@civicmic.com with any questions.

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