By Ralph Echtinaw
St. Louis residents will pay 11.35 percent more for water and sewer beginning Sept. 1, as city council voted Tuesday to raise rates for the third year in a row.
A residential customer who uses 4,000 gallons a month now pays $37.18 for water and $37.79 for sewer.
After the new rates kick in the same customer using the same amount of water will pay $38.78 for water and $46.36 for sewer.
Long range plans are for the city to keep increasing water and sewer rates for three or four more years before the fee is where the experts say it should be.
The water and wastewater billing comes in two parts. A “readiness to serve” charge is paid by every homeowner and business regardless of how much water they use. A “commodity” charge is based on how much water a customer uses.
Sewer rates have risen much more than water rates, going from a $7.26 readiness to serve charge in 2017 to $25.08 this year. The commodity charge for wastewater is actually lower (at $5.32) than it was in 2017 ($5.66) but higher than last year ($4.68).
Water rates have risen less dramatically, going from a readiness to serve charge of $19.84 in 2017 to $20.59 this year. But the commodity charge for water has gone from $3.24 per thousand gallons in 2017 to $4.30 this year.
To see how much water and wastewater you’re being billed for, look at the water and sewer lines on your city bill and move your finger across to the Usage column. That is how many hundreds of gallons you used during the billing period.
Convert that to thousands of gallons by moving the decimal point one place to the left and multiply by the commodity charge, then add the readiness to serve charge. The result should match the dollar amount on your bill.
Once the new rates take effect the city should bring in about $2,932,326 a year; up from $2,676,902, said City Manager Kurt Giles via email.
The money is needed to bring the city’s water and sewer infrastructure up to date.
Some 23,400 feet of sanitary sewer pipe was in need of replacement or repair in St. Louis two years ago. Some has been replaced since then, most notably on Maple Street. And sewer and water lines on State Street between South Main and Michigan Avenue will be replaced next year when that road is reconstructed. Bonds will be issued for that project and paid off using water and wastewater revenue.