Riverdale considers new sanitary sewer rates for FY 23

Riverdale considers new sanitary sewer rates for FY 23

For some time, Riverdale has been working on re-aligning its sanitary sewer finances (both capital investment and rates) for the coming year. Following a discussion with some concerned citizens, the proposed ordinance change has been tabled until new cost projections can be worked out and rates computed.  According to out-going mayor, Mike Bawden, the goal is to have public hearings on both the proposed ordinance changes and the rates completed in time that people will feel confident knowing what their sanitary sewer bill will be when the new rates go into effect on July 1, 2022.

Re-structuring the City’s sewer fund

The Sanitary Waste Treatment Facility in West Davenport – jointly owned by Riverdale and three other cities.

A group of interested citizens, led by the former mayor, will work with historical usage information and projections from the Joint Sewerage Committee (who owns and controls the main sanitary line through Riverdale), to build a more comprehensive financial model to project the City’s sanitary sewer expenses. RIverdale is a part-owner of the consortium of cities that jointly owns the trunk sewer line extending from Panorama Park to west Davenport (where the waste water treatment facility is located).

“Our responsibilities as a co-owner of the waste treatment plant and the main trunk line that serves us means we all need to make sure our sewer fund has enough money in it to manage the on-going operational costs and improvements needed from time to time in that facility,” explained Bawden.

But the overhaul of the City’s Sewer Fund was needed for more reasons than just the costs associated with the joint sewer service with Davenport, Bettendorf, and Panorama Park. “We also needed to start allocating overhead and engineering costs for the sanitary sewer to the sewer fund,” explained Bawden. “Historically, Riverdale has been covering those costs out of its General Fund and that’s not really appropriate. Those costs are sanitary sewer related, so they should be paid with user fees and not property taxes.”

(from left to right) Mayors Rice (Panorama Park), Bawden (Riverdale), Klipsch (Davenport) and Gallagher (Bettendorf) sign the documents setting the joint sewer 28E Agreement between all four cities in place.

The difference is slight, but it is there. Not all residents in Riverdale are on the sanitary sewer system and, as a result, don’t pay sewer fees.

In addition to the costs of the jointly-owned sewer utility and overhead, the financial model built by the working group will also include capital investments and sanitary sewer rehabilitations currently scheduled for the next 3 to 6 years as Riverdale moves proactively to eliminate I&I (inflow and infiltration) from their portion of the joint sewer system. Failing to do successfully eliminate I&I from the lines could be financially catastrophic not just for Riverdale, but for all of the cities in the partnership.

Penalties for inaction

“The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has a multi-million dollar order ready to hand down to Davenport, Bettendorf, Riverdale and Panorama Park if we don’t get the I&I situation under control and reduce the amount of relatively clean water that flows through the waste treatment plant at peak times,” said Bawden. “Most of the work needs to be done in Davenport and some of it needs to be done in Bettendorf – but Riverdale and Panorama Park have a little work as well. In our case, most of the sewer repairs we need to make can be done by re-lining the pipes. There are just a couple of spots where we’ll need to do something more involved.”

Riverdale and Panorama Park are currently working jointly on a rehabilitation project for both cities. By sharing the project, both cities are expected to save money.