Sewer Service Charges
Revenues to operate the District are collected yearly from residents
and businesses that are connected to the sanitary sewer system.
The following information will explain how yearly Sewer Service
Charges are calculated and what steps businesses can take to minimize
Annual Sewer Service Charges are placed on your Alameda County property
tax statement. The charges appear on the tax statement as a line
item next to our phone number 477-7500 and are listed as "Union
Sewer Svc." Sewer Service Charges are not a property tax and
are not related to the assessed value of a property. They represent
a charge for a service provided, similar to your phone and P.G.
& E. bills. We simply include the yearly charges on the property
tax statement to save the administrative cost of generating and
mailing our own invoices. More details on how the charges are calculated
are provided below.
Customers are charged at a flat rate.
Charges for residential customers are based on a flat rate per dwelling
unit. The current rate (2014-2015) per dwelling unit is $357.02
per year. This is the charge for a single family home. A property
with multiple housing units such as an apartment complex is charged
$315.25 for each dwelling unit on the property. For example, a ten
unit apartment complex would be charged $315.25 x 10 or $3,152.50
per year. This rate is effective July 15, 2014.
How water use is determined for Commercial & Industrial Charges
Charges for commercial and industrial customers are based on the
volume and pollutant strength of the wastewater being treated. The
volume of wastewater is determined from water meter records obtained
from the Alameda County Water District. Credit is given for water
used that is not discharged to the sanitary sewer, such as landscape
irrigation. Due to the lead time involved to get yearly charges
placed on the County property tax statements, the Sewer Service
Charges on the current year's tax statement reflect services already
provided. Water use for purposes of computing the service charge
is measured from March through February of the previous year. The
Sewer Service Charge for this period is then placed on the property
tax statement that is mailed out in October, with the first installment
due December 10th. The Sewer Service Charge Timing Chart below,
illustrates when charges are collected.
for Commercial & Industrial Users
How pollutant strength is determined
for Commercial and Industrial Charges
Pollutant strength is
measured in samples of wastewater for two components: chemical oxygen
demand (COD), and suspended solids (SS). Wastewater with high strength
costs the District more to treat. For example, wastewater with high
levels of suspended solids produces more sludge (a by-product of
treatment). Sludge is treated and then disposed of at an agricultural
site. If more sludge is produced, our hauling and disposal costs
are higher. Therefore, rates are structured so that customers are
charged based on the volume of solids they contribute to the system.
Wastewater strength for
commercial and industrial customers is determined by one of three
primary methods: General Assignment, Specific Assignment, and
General Assignment: Most commercial and industrial customers,
or properties that include several different types of businesses,
are calculated by the General Assignment method. With this method,
customers are assigned a general strength of strong, moderate or
weak. The three rate components, VOLUME, COD, and SS are combined
into one rate per 1,000 gallons of wastewater discharged. The current
rates for Fiscal Year 2014 (as of July 15, 2013) are shown below:
Strong $7.47 per 1,000
gallons per year
Moderate $4.03 per
1,000 gallons per year
Weak $3.53 per 1,000
gallons per year
Specific Assignment: Strength values are based on studies
of wastewater from similar types of businesses and represent an
"average" for that group. The total charges under this
method are the sum of three components - volume, COD, and SS. USD's
current rates for restaurants are listed below:
Fast Food Restaurants
$7.14 per 1,000 gallons per year
Full Service Restaurants
$9.13 per 1,000 gallons per year
Direct Sampling: This method applies only to industrial customers
with industrial discharge permits. Under this method, samples of
wastewater are collected and sent to a laboratory for analysis.
Both COD and SS are measured and then averaged with other samples
taken that year to determine an average strength for use in calculating
Sewer Service Charges. The sum of three components determines the
total charge. The current rates for each component are:
Volume (Flow) = $2.25
per 1,000 gallons per year
COD = $227.54 per 1,000
pounds per year
SS = $417.17 per 1,000
pounds per year
For more details on how
annual charges are calculated, see the sample rate calculations
for all three methods.
How Sewer Service Rates Are Established
Union Sanitary District is governed by a five-member Board of Directors
which is elected by the residents of the service area. Rates are
reviewed each year based on financial plans for the District and
are subject to approval by the Board. Before rates are set, a notice
is published in the Argus newspaper. If a rate increase is proposed,
the District also complies with Proposition 218 "Right to vote
on Taxes" notification requirements. The annual public hearing
is normally scheduled in June of each year with rates becoming effective
in July. Customers are encouraged to participate in the public hearings
and can send written comments on items before the Board to the attention
of the General Manager.
How Sewer Service Charges Can Be Minimized
For commercial and industrial customers that are under the Specific
or General Assignment methods, the most effective way of minimizing
charges is water conservation. Charges are directly tied to the
volume of water used; therefore, saving-water will reduce the Sewer
Service Charge as well as charges for water. There is a wide variety
of water-saving fixtures on the market. Low-flow toilets, shower
heads and faucet aerators are among the most cost effective. For
industrial customers under the Direct Sampling method, water conservation
and any reductions in pollutant loadings will minimize service charges.
One of the most effective ways to reduce loadings is to minimize
the amount of waste being discharged to the sanitary sewer system.
The District sponsors a Pollution Prevention Program to assist customers
in reducing their waste streams. Call in the District's Commercial/Residential
Customer Team at (510) 477-7500 for more information. More specific
information on water conservation can be obtained from the Alameda
County Water District at (510) 659-1970.
Due to the lag in billing, commercial or industrial customers who
rent or lease their property should carefully consider how Sewer
Service Charges are addressed in the lease or rental agreement.
Changes in tenants with different demands for water or that have
different wastewater strengths will affect the yearly service charge.
A landlord may not become aware of potential changes in service
charges until well after tenant changes have occurred. All
Sewer Service Charges are billed to the property owner. Property
owners are responsible for paying the charges whether or not they
are able to collect from their tenants.
Service Charge Ordinance Ordinance 31.37 An ordinance
providing for the establishment of sewer service charges for fiscal
years 2014, 2015 and 2016. Effective date July 15, 2014.