Capital improvement plan under way for Rock River Water Reclamation District
The Rock River Water Reclamation District (RRWRD) is beginning a 10-year, $188 million improvement plan to help maintain and improve its services and infrastructure. The plan will help ensure RRWRD continues to deliver high-quality, environmentally-sustainable wastewater services to the region.
The District has served the people of Winnebago County for more than 80 years. The majority of its sewer pipes are 50 to 80 years old and in frequent need of maintenance to protect against raw sewage overflows and service disruption. RRWRD must also meet increasingly stringent environmental regulations. To continue effectively serving the people of Winnebago County, these capital improvements must be made.
With the assistance of a national expert, the RRWRD just completed a nearly three-year strategic planning process and a comprehensive cost of service analysis to make sure sewage costs are being distributed to customers as fairly as possible based on their use of the system. The study also reviewed system operations, upcoming regulatory requirements and future capacity needs.
As a result of the analysis, a capital financing plan and revised rate structure were developed. Beginning on or after April 1, 2011, a five-year gradual rate increase/ restructuring plan will go into effect to help fund a 10-year capital improvement plan.
The capital improvements are required to ensure the District maintains compliance with environmental regulations, adequately renews and replaces its aging infrastructure, and leverages available technology to be as efficient as possible with operation and maintenance needs. The gradual rate increase will mean the average residential customer’s costs will go up approximately $1.68 per month (billed quarterly) and will go into effect on or after April 1, 2011, billing cycle. Future increases in the five-year plan will be approximately the same amount.
Other rate changes include the elimination of the administrative fee ($2.50 per bill) and 9 percent capital development fee. In their place will be a minimum customer charge of approximately $10 per quarter that includes 100 cubic feet (1 Ccf) of wastewater service per month. If residents use no more than 1 Ccf (748 gallons) per month, they will be charged this minimum amount. If they use the RRWRD e-bill payment process, they will receive a $1.25 per bill credit off that amount.
To assist qualified low-income households, the District has partnered with the Rockford Human Services Department. Contact information will be on the customer bill. “Even after the increase, our customers will continue to pay rates comparable to, or less than, other Illinois communities and similarly-sized cities,” said Steve Graceffa, RRWRD’s executive director. All RRWRD customers received a notice of the capital improvement plan and related public meeting set for March 14. Information will also be available at www.rrwrd.dist.il.us.
From the March 23-29 issue
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