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The Broken Arrow City Council at the December 6 City Council Meeting approved new utility rates for water, sewer and stormwater services. The rate increase is necessary to continue providing utility services in Broken Arrow and will pay for both operational costs and debt service payments on $90 million worth of capital projects for the utility infrastructure.
Starting with the January 2017 bill, a typical residential customer using 7,000 gallons of water per month will see their water bill increase about $3.36 per month and their sewer bill increase about $2.75 per month. The stormwater fee will increase by $0.76. Increases will occur once a year for the next five years. Subsequent increases will be less than the first year.
“The City has experienced explosive growth over the past 30 years, and major capital investments are needed to make our utility systems reliable and efficient, and to ensure we have the capacity to accommodate future growth anticipated in the next 10-15 years,” said City Manager Michael Spurgeon. “These problems have to be addressed now, otherwise the cost to complete the projects is only going to increase. Moreover, we must have the ability to provide high quality utility services to both current and future customers and position ourselves to accommodate continued economic growth in Broken Arrow.”
Earlier this year, the City of Broken Arrow Administration completed the process of updating its operations and five-year Capital Improvement Plan for the Utilities Department. With regard to infrastructure reinvestment, the Administration identified a need for a total of $140 million worth of improvements to include: $26 million to improve our water system, $102 million to improve our wastewater (sanitary sewer) system, and $12 million to improve our stormwater systems.
The City will pay for the utility systems improvements through the utility rates charged to customers and a possible General Obligation Bond that voters could consider in late 2017 or early 2018. Last year, the City hired the engineering consultant firm of Black and Veatch, which specializes in helping municipalities analyze costs for services delivered and establish appropriate utility rates. Black and Veatch, working with staff, has determined what Broken Arrow’s water, sewer and stormwater fees should be in order to pay for the necessary utility systems improvements and the additional staff needed to maintain the systems.
BACKGROUND AND HISTORY
The City’s utility infrastructure includes a water production plant, two waste-water treatment facilities, six water storage facilities, 29 lift stations, four booster pump stations and approximately 1,500 miles of water and sanitary sewer lines. The City is also responsible for managing stormwater conveyance systems, so that stormwater runoff is transported to natural drainage ways.
A tremendous amount of utility infrastructure growth and expansion occurred in the late 1960s through the mid-1980s. Much of this early expansion is now aging and beginning to show significant signs of deterioration. Additionally, nearly 100,000 people have been added to our community in the last 46 years. In 1970, the population of Broken Arrow was almost 12,000. Today in 2016, it is nearly 110,000. This nine-fold growth has significantly impacted and stressed our utility infrastructure, coupled with the fact that a substantial amount of it is at the end of its useful life.
A stressed system can lead to service interruptions, which are not only costly to address, but also affect day-to-day life within the community. Some recent examples include:
WHAT THE RATE INCREASE PAYS FOR
The City’s aging infrastructure has not kept up with growth. Capital improvement investments are needed to minimize service disruptions, ensure the system works as intended and comply with state and federal regulatory standards. As a result, rate increases are needed to fund the replacement of old sewer and water lines, upgrade the wastewater treatment plants, as well as pay the loan on the new Verdigris River Water Treatment Plant. The following lists some of the projects in the Capital Improvement Plan:
Water Project Highlights
Wastewater Project Highlights
Stormwater Project Highlights
View the complete Capital Improvement Plan at www.BrokenArrowOK.gov/UTILITYCIP.