Just recently, the City of Lake Stevens and the Lake Stevens Sewer District agreed to form a subcommittee to explore options as allowed for in the 2005 Unified Sewer Services and Annexation Agreement that could be in the best interest of the ratepayers and the unified community moving forward.
Some background information related to this 2005 Unification Agreement is as follows:
In 2004, a new wastewater treatment plant was needed to meet more stringent environmental standards for discharging into the Snohomish River. It was also designed to accommodate the capacity needed for the growing population within the City limits and the entire Urban Growth Area to meet the demands of future population projections.
Because of a number of regional factors, including the significant cost of the new treatment plant and large annexations being proposed by the City, the Sewer District and the City began working together to develop the framework for a Unification Agreement which proposed combining the City’s wastewater system with the Sewer District’s system so that the cost of the new treatment plant would be spread equally to the larger pool of rate payers. At the time, this proposed merger would result in a significant cost benefit for the existing City ratepayers.
In 2005, the Unified Sewer Services and Annexation Agreement was approved and the City turned over its wastewater system to the Sewer District.
This Agreement outlines process to allow discussions and evaluations to occur for both agencies to facilitate a transfer of the unified wastewater treatment system to the City as well as specific provisions to allow coordinated discussions about land use activities. Shortly after the agreement was approved and the Sewer District took over the City’s existing system, the District invested over $1.5 million dollars into rehabilitating the City’s aging wastewater collection system in the historic downtown area.
Additionally, the new wastewater treatment plant was just recently completed by the Lake Stevens Sewer District at a cost of $102 million dollars. Long term loans related to the capital costs associated with the new treatment plant have had a significant impact on sewer rates over the past few years. A multiyear lull in development in the area has also added to the pressure on revenue streams allocated to pay for the new plant.
As a result, the District and the City are in the beginning stages of working together to look for long term solutions that maximize value to the ratepayer through the provisions outlined in the Unification Agreement.