Water and Sewer Rates

Purpose
Recently Douglas County has implemented or is proposing to implement utility rate increases. This webpage is designed to answer frequently asked questions about utility increases and to provide information about proposed utility rate increases. If you have any questions about utility rate increases please contact the Public Works Department.

How are Utility Rates Calculated?
The development of utility rates involve the following procedures:
  • Determination of the total revenue requirements
  • Allocation of the total annual revenue requirements to the basic functional cost components
  • Distribution of component costs to the various customer classes in accordance with their requirements for service
  • Design of rates that will recover from each class of customer, the cost to serve that customer

Access Water Rate Components for more information.

Why are Utility Rates Increasing?
Rate increases are necessary to provide sufficient revenue to meet annual operations and maintenance requirements of the systems. The increases also cover costs to pay debt principal and interest. The county is taking a proactive approach by building a reserve (capital reinvestment) to fund short term capital projects. This reserve is similar to a personal savings account that will be used as reinvestment to fund projects with in the systems.

Some of these projects might include:
  • Equipment replacement or additions (tanks, pipes, equipment)
  • Utility line repair and replacement that exceeds a normal annual repair
By implementing this increase the county is taking the steps to ensure long term sustainability, public safety, and cost efficiency of the systems.

Why Can't the County Just Shift Funding to Cover the Cost?
In the past the county has shifted money from the General Fund to help pad the cost going back to the user. However, this shift is not sustainable. Currently the systems operate under what is called an “Enterprise fund.”

An Enterprise fund is defined as a fund established to account for operations which are financed and conducted in a manner similar to the operations of private business enterprises, where the intent of the governing body is to have expenses (including depreciation) of providing goods or services on a continuing basis to the general public, financed or recovered primarily through charges to the users; or for which the governing body has decided that a periodic determination of revenues earned, expenses incurred and net income is consistent with public policy and is appropriate for capital maintenance, management control, accountability or other purposes.

Proposed Utility Rate Increases in the Carson Valley
On March 6, 2014, staff presented 4 scenarios for the Board of County Commissioners to consider based on different system reinvestment funding ages for utility rate increases to the Carson Valley Systems. The board directed the staff to implement a 3.25% increase in both water and sewer rates. Public workshops were scheduled to help educate the public about the proposed increases.
Why are Utility Rates Higher in Some Areas Verses Others?
Douglas County has several different water systems spread through out the county. Each system has different needs and some systems are larger than others. The larger systems are typically made up of less people (consisting of larger lots). Because there are less people in the larger systems, there are less users to spread out and divide costs. Some of the larger systems are also further from the water source and require more to pump water to the user. The larger systems are made up of more pipe and equipment costing more to maintain.