100% jump in sewer rates also possible

Sewer rates could double over the next decade as the city of Ashland complies with environmental regulations and upgrades the community's sewer system.

Water rates are projected to also double, although Ashland has more choice over whether that will actually happen, city of Ashland Public Works Director Mike Faught said.

Sewage rate increases are largely out of the city of Ashland's hands, he said.

Ashland will likely spend $10.8 million between now and 2022 to:

  • install bigger pipes to meet future capacity needs
  • add an extra area to hold wastewater
  • relocate a treated sewer water outflow pipe from Ashland Creek to Bear Creek
  • and plant and maintain eight miles of trees along Bear Creek to reduce water temperatures, thus helping fish.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is requiring Ashland to address the issue that its treated sewer water is too warm to be emptied into Ashland Creek, which then flows into Bear Creek.

Planting the trees and relocating the treated sewer water outflow pipe are the cheapest alternatives to deal with the temperature issue, according to extensive studies.

DEQ has endorsed the plan because the trees not only shade the water, but provide a host of other environmental benefits.

A study of sewer rate increases shows how they would impact households and businesses across town. Rates could begin ratcheting up as early as May if approved by the Ashland City Council.

A typical two-person household would see its monthly sewer bill gradually rise from $19 in 2011 to $40 in 2021.

A four-person household would see an increase from $21 to $45 during that time period.

A large hotel that washes its own bed linens and towels would see rate increases from $841 per month to $1,810 per month in 2021.

A medium restaurant's monthly sewer bill would rise from $241 to $518 in 2021.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.

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