Last week, the City of Omaha announced proposed sewer rate increases over the next four years to comply with the federal mandate to meet the Clean Water Act standards. Omaha is one of 772 communities in the United States required to carry out the unfunded mandate. The rate ordinance will be introduced to the Omaha City Council for first reading today, June 24. A public hearing and vote is scheduled for July 15.
The news has generated questions to our call center from customers about the potential impact on their Metropolitan Utilities District (M.U.D.) bills. M.U.D. serves the greater Omaha area and surrounding cities by providing natural gas and water to our ratepayers.
The City of Omaha is responsible for its regional sewer system and all charges associated with the sewer line items of the invoice. M.U.D. is the billing agent for the City of Omaha and other municipalities. M.U.D. collects sewer use and trash fees and submits those back to the respective city. The sewer and trash rates and fees are set by each respective city or sewer jurisdiction (not by M.U.D). This combined invoicing provides more efficient service to both sewer users and our ratepayers by avoiding unnecessary billings and saves postage costs. In addition to Omaha, we are the billing agent for the following jurisdictions:
- Bellevue (also collect trash fees)
- La Vista
- Ralston (also collect trash fees)
- Small part of Gretna
- Parts of Sarpy County
The City of Omaha also provides sewer services to surrounding communities via wholesale agreements. In addition, the City of Omaha provides direct sewer service to many locations in Douglas and Sarpy counties that are outside the Omaha city limits. Sewer charges on your M.U.D. bill are calculated based on the rates designated by the sewer provider for your address. Residential sewer rates are the total of two charges:
- Customer Charge (fixed monthly fee)
- Flow Charge (varies with usage)
The monthly sewer use fee during the winter season is based on the actual amount of water used. The winter season will encompass four billing cycles, starting with the M.U.D. December billing schedule and ending with the March billing schedule. The four winter billing cycles are averaged to determine a base monthly usage level to be used during the non-winter period when calculating your sewer fees. In some instances, the base monthly usage level may be reviewed and adjusted as appropriate.
During the non-winter period, from April's billing schedule through November's billing schedule, the sewer use fee is calculated by using either 1) the actual water use during that specific billing cycle, or 2) the base monthly usage level (the average of the four winter billing cycles), WHICHEVER IS LESS. Remember, your water use in the winter can impact your bills throughout the year.
A fund was created by the City of Omaha in 2011 to help low-income customers. Residents who qualify for Nebraska's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will also qualify for sewer rate assistance, which is reflected on their M.U.D. bill. Over the last 12 months, approximately $1 million in sewer bill assistance was provided to customers who qualify for LIHEAP. Click here to apply for Nebraska LIHEAP or call 1.800.383.4278 (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday - Friday).
For more information
Link to the Mayor’s Office news release: http://mayors-office.cityofomaha.org/component/content/article?id=117. You can submit questions through the “Opinion Box” at http://mayors-office.cityofomaha.org/ and you will receive a written answer from the Mayor’s Office.
For more in-depth information or to use the rate calculator, visit the City’s Clean Solutions for Omaha (CSO) project website: http://omahacso.com/
If you want to discuss the proposed sewer rate increase, you may contact the CSO hotline at 402.341.0235.