The Metropolitan Council proposes to increase its wholesale charge to cities and townships for wastewater collection and treatment by 6.8% in 2024.
“We are committed to keeping our rates at or below the inflation rate for costs associated with wastewater collection and treatment, which is around 7.2%,” said Ned Smith, director of pretreatment and finance for the Met Council’s Environmental Services division.
The biggest drivers of wastewater treatment cost inflation in 2024 are chemicals, labor, gas, and electricity.
Though costs are rising, households in the Twin Cities metro area pay about 35% less than the national average for wastewater services, according to the National Association of Clean Water Agencies.
The sewer availability charge, for new and expanded development, will remain flat at $2,485. It was last raised in January 2014. Robust residential development in recent years has helped build up the reserve fund, used to pay debt service on infrastructure projects.
Debt service payments will remain stable through 2028
Smith reported to the Met Council’s Environment Committee that we successfully made it through a period of increased debt service between 2018 and 2022, and for the next four years will see no or only a small increase in our annual debt service costs.
That will change after 2028, when several very large construction projects will be in progress. Among these are a new incinerator at the Metro Wastewater Treatment Plant and the rehab of the three existing incinerators, as well as building two new wastewater treatment plants in Hastings and Rogers.
The asset value of the regional wastewater collection and treatment system is about $7 billion, and our capital improvement program ranges between $150 million and $250 million each year. Despite what seem like big numbers, our system has the seventh lowest debt per capita among 21 peer regions.
Municipal customer forums set for May 25 and June 8
The Met Council proposes wastewater rates early enough in the year so that our customer communities have time to set their next year’s budget. We hold customer forums each spring to share information about why we are proposing the rates we are and to hear feedback.
This year’s two municipal customer forums include a virtual one on May 25, and an in-person meeting hosted by Metro Cities on June 8. Industrial customer forums were held early in May. In addition to financial data, Environmental Services staff will share information about other activities in the division, including the capital program, updates to the customer portal, proposed updates to regional water resources policy, and the Met Council’s new Climate Action Work Plan.
Register for one of the events
Video presentation about the proposed 2024 rates and charges (starts at 50:23)