May 29, 2019

Wastewater Treatment Plant Changes Water Rates for Montana Residents

City council to increase water & sewer rates to fund the wastewater treatment facility construction

City council to increase water & sewer rates to fund the wastewater treatment facility construction

The city council in Billings, Mont., voted to increase water and sewer rates for businesses and property owners effective July 1.

A $75 million wastewater treatment facility also is included in the rate increase to finish the construction of a water reservoir and the plant. According to the Billings Gazette, the city council requested users’ bills show how much of the bill is used to pay for the reservoir and the treatment plant.

An average single-family resident’s water rate will go up $2.80 in 2021 and $1.82 in 2022 with the approved increase. Businesses may see their rates go up by approximately 3% depending on the waterline, according to the Billings Gazette.

According to Billings Gazette, the city performs a rate study every two years to evaluate what to charge for water and sewer treatment while also addressing inflation and maintenance costs. This 2019 study called for small increases for residents and larger increases for businesses and industrial users.

The rates also are a result of new requirements to remove nitrogen and other nutrients from the city’s wastewater. According to the Billings Gazette, this will impact rates that property owners are charged on their water and sewer bills.  

Businesses classified as “high-strength commercial”—bakeries, restaurants and grocery stores—will receive the biggest increases. These businesses will see rates for wastewater produced in 2021 rise by 4% and an additional 7% in 2022, according to the Billings Gazette.

The Department of Environmental Quality has a news state requirement to remove nitrogen and phosphates from the wastewater and construction of the city’s new plant. The new treatment plant will remove nitrogen and phosphates from the wastewater, and will also turn the nutrient into pellets the city can sell as fertilizer, according to the Billings Gazette.

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