Orchard Lake residents will see a hike in their water and sewer rates now that the Orchard Lake City Council has approved hikes in rates effective July 1 for 2011-12 based on recommendations from the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner’s (WRC) Office.
The council deliberated on the issue at its Monday, June 20 meeting after reviewing a cost analysis by council member Joe Majcher.
According to City Clerk Janet Green, water and sewer rates have risen over the last six years.
“The Water Resources Commission is saying it’s an increase of more than 10 percent,” she said.
Majcher stated that by far the majority of cost increase is due to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) raising its rates substantially for water and sewage. Sewer rates increased from $29.02 to $32.99 per thousand cubic feet (mcf) of usage.
According to the WRC, this cost includes charges for sewage disposal to the DWSD system and charges for WRC operation and maintenance of the Evergreen-Farmington Sewage Disposal System. The hike also covers WRC’s costs to operate and maintain Orchard Lake’s sanitary sewer system.
However, residents not connected to the Detroit water system, but instead have a well, get a cost break. Rates declined from $174.12 per quarter in 2010-11 to $131.96 in 2011-12.
“This is because they don’t have water meters so assumptions are used,” Green said. “In the past, the formula assumes the property owner consumed 6,000 cubic feet per quarter and we changed that to 4,000 because people on a flat rate were paying proportionately higher than the public system and that’s not fair.”
The city of Orchard Lake pays its maintenance fees to the WRC. The water operating and maintenance fee will be set at $7.40 per 1,000 gallons of water usage compared to the $6.70 charged last year.
The Detroit water rate for 2011-12 is $26.93. The rate is the amount charged to West Bloomfield. In turn, West Bloomfield supplies water to Orchard Lake through the West Bloomfield system. The amount paid to West Bloomfield is 65 cents per 1,000 cubic feet compared to 49 cents last year, for a total charge of $27.58.
With operation and maintenance fees tacked on, the total charge to residents per 1,000 mcf of water is $34.98 compared to $31.84 last year.
The city has significant control over the level of maintenance that it wants to purchase from the WRC. Therefore, the Water and Sewage Committee will be studying maintenance fees and services, as well as water and sewer rates, in more detail, and forward a recommendation to council.