Current Situation


Western’s Board of Directors adopted Ordinance 386 revising Water and Sewer Connection Fees that were a part of earlier Ordinances 381 and 382; this adoption included implementing the revised fees Jan. 1, 2017 to allow affected parties time to adjust their business finances as necessary. A three-year phase in was also approved with fees set for Jan. 1, 2017, Jan. 1, 2018 and Jan. 1, 2019. Connection fees will then be reevaluated by Western staff with the likely recommendation to the Board for an annual adjustment based on an industry standard construction cost index.

To address potential vulnerabilities in fee sustainability for the District, staff studied our water and wastewater systems, plans for growth and demand, to develop an equitable nexus for the water and wastewater connection fees for new developments within our retail service areas. This process began in 2015. The following components were considered in the study:

  • New facilities are required to meet new demands
  • Demands are based on city and county general plans
  • Projections indicate that we are about half-way to ultimate build-out
  • Expansion is paid for by those that benefit
  • Connection fees pay for expanded system capacity
The cost of expansion of the system is paid for by those that benefit from the capacity that the expansion creates and not unduly burden existing users: new development pays for new development. Western collects funds to pay for system capacity by capacity fees. Capacity fees are used to pay for the facilities required to build infrastructure necessary to meet ultimate water, sewer, or recycled water demand. Capacity fees pay for the main transmission pipelines, reservoirs, and pumps. The capacity fees do not include the cost of building smaller distribution pipe within the tracts. Capacity fees are charged as customers connect to the system based on how much of the system capacity they will use.
  • Fees reflect cost to new users without undue burden to existing users.
  • Nexus between fee and public improvements that benefit new users.
  • Fee proceeds segregated from general fund.
Western has certain legal requirements that have to be met in the development of fees. Fees must reflect the cost to new users without unduly burdening existing users; fees shouldn’t be set so low that the existing customers have to make up the short fall in higher rates; there must be a nexus between fees and public improvements that benefit new users (that is, the new capacity that is built has to be for the people that pay for the fees); and the collected fees must be segregated from the general fund – fees can’t be used for any other purpose.

During 2015 and 2016, Western’s team has continued the research and fee studies as well as incorporating a Working Group of stakeholders in this analyzation process. In addition, workshops have been conducted with our Board of Directors.