KALAMA — Kalama’s water rates must rise 2 percent annually for the next six years to pay the $2.3 million price tag for water system upgrades, officials said at last week’s City Council meeting.
The average single-family household in city limits now pays an average of $32.89 per month for city water. Next year, that will rise to $33.55. By 2020, the average bill will rise to about $34.22, said Coni McMaster, the city’s clerk and treasurer. The city will have to pass another ordinance to continue rate increases after 2020.
While touring the city, the state Department of Health found that the old Cloverdale water system, which was built 50 to 70 years ago, needs to be replaced. Superintendent of Public Works Kelly Rasmussen said that capital improvements would be focused there, adding that “nothing lasts forever.”
Rasmussen reported that Kalama has some deficiencies in its storage. City reservoirs currently hold about 2.5 million gallons of water. As Kalama experiences commercial growth in the coming years, he expects the city will need another 1 million-gallon reservoir by 2025. The capital improvement project will also replace several existing reservoirs and booster stations.
As for the water treatment facility, Rasmussen said, “a third filter will be needed to meet future demands.” The city’s water quality currently meets all state and federal requirements.
Kalama does, however, have adequate source capacity from the Ranney Well collector to meet projected demands through 2035. It also has adequate water rights.
Rasmussen wrapped up the public hearing by presenting water use efficiency goals. The state has required additional conservation measures since adopting the Water Use Efficiency Rule in January 2007. In that vein, Kalama has an annual goal of a 0.5 percent reduction in water consumption. Between 2007 and 2014 water consumption dropped a whopping 43 percent.
The state also requires that there be less than a 10 percent water leak in the distribution system. In 2016, Kalama surpassed that number with a 13.7 percent leakage, though Rasmussen blames a computer problem and said the number would be smaller for 2017.
Following Rasmussen’s presentation, the council unanimously adopted the water system plan and water use efficiency goals and measures. Rasmussen said he will submit the revised plan to the Department of Health for review.