Six years ago the City found out they would need to improve water quality to adhere to higher standards for safe drinking water. Higher testing standards required the City to use membrane filtration as well as chlorination. The only way to achieve this was through construction of a new facility. The City of St. Helens had to borrow $8 million toward the almost $11 million cost of a new water filtration plant put on line in April 2006. It has been necessary to increase rates to cover the cost of this facility.
In 2002, the City Council approved a phased-in plan to generate revenues sufficient to cover the $8 million debt payment and operations/maintenance of the facility. For the current (2006/2007) fiscal year, residents in all water classes can expect to see 20% increases in water rates, 4.5% increases in sewer rates and a 15% increase in the stormwater utility charge. It is estimated that similar increases will occur for 2007/2008 with a leveling off beginning in 2008/2009. The rate study indicates that increases after 2007/2008 are expected to be inflationary only unless another major project is identified.
The City’s Watershed property (aka: Salmonberry) will continue to bring revenue in from logging which will subsidize the water rates. Protection of this land is paramount in keeping the rates affordable to our residents. The City instated a permitting procedure for the 2,400 acres in the Watershed to gain some control over the activities on the property. It is a priority for us to maintain the land and protect it from unnecessary and illegal carelessness which could result in loss of revenue.
To view the Resolution which adopted the newest rates effective December 15, 2012, click here.
To tour the new Water Filtration Facility, please contact Howie Burton at (503) 397-1311.