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Sonoma County sewer fees to flow more fairly

Published: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 4:42 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 4:42 p.m.

The Sonoma County Water Agency is promising to change the way it calculates fees in the sewer systems it controls in order to more fairly charge large and small homes.

Critics have long complained that the flat fees the agency charges in the eight systems it runs unfairly overcharge small houses and condo units that discharge relatively small amounts of sewage.

Assistant General Manager Michael Thompson told county supervisors Tuesday that the agency can't base its fees on actual sewer usage because it can't get reliable water use data for most customers in order to estimate sewer output. It can only apply flow-based rates in portions of the Sonoma Valley system. He promised, however, to study best industry practices and come back with a fairer fee structure for smaller customers next year.

At Tuesday's meeting, the supervisors approved the annual package of sewer rates for the agency's systems, with hikes of as little as 2 percent in Geyserville up to 7 percent in the Airport-Larkfield-Wikiup system.

Details of the new rates are available at

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