Metropolitan Council Environmental Services allocates municipal wastewater charges to communities uniformly, based on flow. After we develop our annual operating budget, we allocate to each of our 111 customer communities a portion of the total regional municipal wastewater charge based on the volume of wastewater that we collect and treat from each community. For example, if a community contributed 5% of the total regional wastewater flow in 2020, it will pay 5% of the total regional municipal wastewater charge in 2022.
We charge industries uniformly proportionate to the strength and volume of their discharges. We charge liquid waste haulers uniformly for each type of load - septage, portable toilet waste, holding tank wastewater, and leachate liquid wastes - based on the volume of the load and the average strength of the types of loads. We include a special facilities component and an administrative fee for out-of-region wastes.
Service availability charges (SAC) are uniform within the urban service area of the region and based on maximum potential capacity demand. The Met Council has adopted special SAC policies for jurisdictions designated as Rural Growth Centers with a Met Council-owned treatment plant and/or interceptor facilities.
Some aspects of wastewater utility rate systems are prescribed by Environmental Protection Agency regulations (40 CFR 35.2140).
Minnesota municipalities are required to design charges "as nearly as possible proportionate to the cost of providing the service" (M.S. 444.075(3b)). The Met Council supports this by designing its own fees based on cost of service.
Cost-of-service pricing provides the most rational pricing signals to users, thereby improving the economy of the region. For example, an industrial site that is considering whether to add pretreatment equipment at their site has an incentive to make the best decision for the region if their wastewater charges reflect the actual cost of the service.