Inverness water rate hike will fund new tanks

11/09/2017

For Inverness residents, January will bring increased water rates, part of a capital improvement project underway to replace aging storage tanks. Residents will still pay some of the least expensive rates in the county, but the $100 bi-monthly basic charge will increase 15 percent, to $115, on Jan. 1, and to $121 in July 2019. Metered usage rates will also see a slight uptick, with a majority of residential customers—who now pay $2.30 per unit (748 gallons) over the billing period—paying $2.60 in January and $2.70 in July 2019. The Inverness Public Utility District board approved the increases last month. Across the district’s 516 connections, the board expects the rate hike to haul in around an extra $85,000 a year. “It’s going to almost 100 percent pay off the cost of replacing these tanks,” Ken Emanuels, president of the utility district board, said. Two redwood tanks in Seahaven called the Stockstill tanks were demolished in August and the installation of a single, seismically safe steel tank is expected to be completed by the end of this year. That project, which will cost about $346,000, is the first step in the district’s roughly $2 million capital improvement program approved last year. To assist in funding the projects, the district is applying for a 30-year loan through the state’s water board that would provide about $80,000 a year. The district has used seven redwood water tanks and four steel tanks over the past several decades, but rotting underpinnings and corroded steel straps have rendered many of them a liability. Next year will see the replacement of 800 feet of water main in Seahaven, at a cost of around $150,000, and the replacement of two critical redwood tanks in First Valley—called the Tenney tanks—with two steel tanks for about $750,000. “We need to replace the tanks that create disinfectant byproducts and are not seismically or fire safe,” said Ken Eichstaedt, the district’s general manager. “The sooner we can get rid of these tanks, the better.” The last time the Inverness Public Utility District raised rates was in 2009.