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Sunnyside water, sewer rates likely will rise in future

The water and sewer rates in Sunnyside will need to go up to pay for maintenance and new infrastructure over the next 10 years.

That was the basic conclusion presented to the Sunnyside City Council on Monday during its regularly scheduled workshop. The details of the rate structure haven't yet been worked out, but the amount of money that will need to be raised has been roughly determined.

Tom Helgeson, speaking for CH2M Hill, explained that Sunnyside's systems are in need of capital improvements. The city hired CH2M Hill in May 2011 to conduct a review of the water and sewer rates of the city.

Helgeson presented the projection of funding needed for the city in the next 10 years, emphasizing that the projection would need reviewing as the situation on the ground changes.

He noted that the rate projections his company has made do not include possible grant money.

"You do not want to build a rate structure based on something you might get for free," he said.

Sunnyside will need to increase revenue from water fees about 8 percent in 2013 and 3 percent each year in the nine years thereafter to keep up with the needs of the water system.

The sewer system will need similar increases in Sunnyside, starting with a 5 percent increase of revenue in 2013 followed by 3 percent annual increases in the years after.

This doesn't mean that water and sewer bills will jump that amount for all customers. The rates will depend on the type of customer.

Council member Jason Raines asked how much capacity the city sewer system currently has. Helgeson said some parts of the system have more room while others, particularly the lines running sewer to the treatment plant, may be over capacity. Sunnyside has not had a stand-alone wastewater plan in 15 years and upgrades to the system are estimates based on what city staff believes needs to be done.

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