E-Mail Forum
  Support Sewer Rate Increases
May 29, 2010

In these challenging economic times, any increased financial burden is unpopular, but I want to urge you to support (not protest) the proposed sewer rate increases for Richmond Wastewater District No. 1.

This is the collection system and treatment plant on Canal Boulevard that serves about 60% of Richmond property owners. The remainder are served by the Stege Sanitary District and the West County Wastewater District.

If you missed the last City Council meeting, there is an excellent presentation you can access on line. Click  on RECEIVE a staff presentation regarding the proposed capital improvement projects for the Wastewater Enterprise, and the potential impact on the rate structure - Engineering Services (Chad Davisson 620-5486). Included is a slide show and various exhibits, including the one shown below that indicated the fees for Richmond Wastewater District No. 1. are about the median in the Bay Area.

Photo One
The proposed increase will amount to about $0.11 per day for a single residential unit.

One of the most compelling reasons for increasing fees is to upgrade the collection infrastructure as required by a lawsuit the City settled with Baykeeper several years ago. The improvement funded by the increase will reduce the risk of wet weather overflows, for which the City could be fined millions of dollars. It makes more sense to spend the money on improving the system than paying mandatory fines.

There are some strong feelings out there about this and a whole lot of misinformation, for example:

  • Richmond should build a pipeline and send its sewage to EBMUD. It would be more expensive, and EBMUD doesn’t want it.
  • Residential fees are unfairly allocated and should be based on usage, not a flat rate. Fees based on water usage would cost more because there would be a significant administrative cost charged by EBMUD, which supplies water. Property owners would be billed for irrigation water, even though it doesn’t produce sewage. The method of setting residential fees was set several years ago, but it can be revisited.
  • Veolia is ripping us off. Veolia, which operates the wastewater plant and maintains the collection system won their contract several years ago as the low bidder, beating out EBMUD and a City employee proposal. Their contract is increased only by annual CPI adjustments.
  • The City is siphoning off wastewater funds for other unauthorized uses. This is not true.


Increasing the fees is a sound financial decision and an investment in Richmond’s future. It could cost all of us a lot more if we don’t do this.