Why did the City of Kent raise my water and sewer rates?
No matter how much you like a service or how essential it may be, handing over your hard-earned money to somebody else is never fun. We understand that.
But when it comes to your water and sewer bill, the simple fact is the cost of running these complex systems continues to rise. Your bill helps to maintain and upgrade a vast infrastructure that allows us to collect, treat and deliver safe, reliable water, provide essential fire protection services, and finally, take wastewater and sewage away from your home or business for treatment and disposal.
Of the 280 miles of water pipes and 211 miles of wastewater pipes, many are over 40 years old and need to be replaced to ensure their consistent and proper function. Given the age and condition of many of the pipes in these systems, continued investment isn’t just important, it is essential to the well-being of our entire community.
Why did the City add an annual cost-of-living rate increase to the rates?
Accounting for inflation of costs provides a sustainable revenue source to meet the ongoing maintenance needs in the both the water and sewer systems. Without them, our maintenance backlog increases, putting the reliability of both systems at risk.
Will my water rate in the summer still go up?
No, we’ve eliminated winter and summer rates. By stabilizing the monthly base rate, it helps us even out revenues over the year so we can repair and upgrade our system. This means less reliance on revenues from how much water customers use, which has become increasingly difficult to predict in recent years given the more frequent and extreme weather fluctuations we’ve had and conservation efforts. We hope the rate certainty will also be a plus for our customers.
Why am I being charged for a dedicated fire line for a sprinkler system that I never use?
Customers with dedicated fire lines paid no fees previously. The fee will now cover the cost to construct and maintain these lines so water will be available when it is needed. There will be no charge for the water used in during an incident, however. The fee amount is dependent on the number, and size of your fire lines.
Who approved these rate increases and when were they approved?
Given the nearly $9.5 million annual cost to maintain both the water and sewer systems and the $7 million annual shortfall to pay for them, the City Council has been working during open public meetings for over two years to develop a sustainable funding plan. The rate increases were approved in Aug. 16 2016 and became effective Jan 1, 2017.
How do the City’s water rates compare to those in neighboring cities and Water Districts?
The monthly rates shown below are for the average customer with a ¾-inch meter that uses 700 cubic feet of water. Even with our rate increase, Kent’s water rates are comparable with others in our area. (2017 rates)
• Lakehaven Water District $27.36
• Soos Creek Water District $31.16
• Renton $37.12
• Auburn $37.20
• Highline Water District $39.69
• Kent $39.95
• Water District 111 $42.36
• Covington $47.93
What can I do to reduce my water consumption?
For most households, the vast majority of water is used indoors. You can get the biggest water savings in your home by installing efficient fixtures and fixing leaks. The choices you make in your yard can also save you money on your water bill. There are a number of rebate programs available for water efficient appliances. Please visit our rebates page to see the options available to you.
I’ve used less water. Am I being penalized for conservation?
We always encourage conservation and the efficient use of water. In fact, rates would be higher without our customers’ conservation efforts; we’d have to build more treatment and distribution facilities to keep up with the demand for water.
No one likes paying higher bills, but consider the overall value of water. Most City of Kent Water customers will pay about $3 for 1,000 gallons of water.
And while rates are going up, Kent is committed to keeping water affordable, particularly for the essential indoor water use that is vital for drinking, cooking and sanitation.
Is there assistance available for low-income customers?
Customers who are 62 years of age or older, or are permanently disabled, and have a total household income less than the Federal HUD guidelines may quality for Lifeline Rates. For more information please visit our Lifeline page or call 253-856-5201 for details.
Who do I call if I still have questions about my utility bill?
If you’d like to discuss your bill with someone, contact Kent’s Customer Service team at 253-856-5201.