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Why do wastewater rates go up every year?

There are several reasons for annual rate increases. They include:

  1. Inflation – The industry sees increased costs to do business, including costs for power, chemicals, solids disposal and labor costs.
  2. Water quality compliance requirements is another driver of increased costs.  Because the water is returned to streams, river, etc. once it has been treated, the EPA continues to increase regulatory requirements to protect public health, protect the environment and ensure clean water.  For example, JCW has been directed to uphold:
  • New ammonia release criteria for area waterways, which will provide better protection for fish and other aquatic life. 
  • Increased nutrient removal requirements.  Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus facilitate algae growth which results in the oxygen depletion that affect fish and other aquatic life in local streams and lakes as well as larger downstream water bodies such as the Gulf of Mexico where large fish kills have occurred over the last several decades. 

Continued investment in preventive maintenance – Unlike many utilities, JCW has a fiscally responsible and proactive asset management, maintenance and repair program that helps keep the cost of operating and maintaining the wastewater system lower by avoiding expensive repairs and clean-up costs resulting from deferred maintenance of sanitary sewer pipes and wastewater treatment equipment. By reinvesting in our aging system, JCW has significantly reduced the occurrences of collapsing pipes and public health issues from back-ups and raw sewage overflows.  By investing a little at a time you get more out of the system by improving the durability, life and reliability of the county’s assets, thus lessening the impact to rates.