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Lakehaven does it again

The Mirror

Lakehaven Utility District customers might be getting spoiled.

For the fifth year in a row, the water and sewer district is holding the line on its rates. Its commissioners, reflecting the agency’s favorable balance sheet at the end of 2004, have voted not to increase rates in 2005.

“With costs for most goods and services increasing every year, this should be a welcome change” for the public, said Commissioner Ed Stewart.

Commissioner Tom Jovanovich said the no-increase stance gives district officials “a good feeling.”

The current base rate for residential water service using a standard meter is $7.24 per month. Customers using approximately 7,500 gallons of water per month pay a total monthly water charge of $12.54, which is well below the statewide average.

According to a survey published by the Association of Washington Cities, the average base monthly rate charged to customers in 2004 by water utilities participating in a statewide survey was $18.10, with customers using 7,500 gallons paying $24.54.

Lakehaven’s sewer rates are a comparable bargain, too. Residential sewer rates for Lakehaven customers using a comparable amount of water are $26.48 per month, compared to an average 2004 rate of $33.75 per month for customers of agencies participating in the statewide survey.

The sewer rate is influenced by the volume of water consumed during winter months. Lakehaven Commissioner Dick Mayer explained that unlike summer, when outside watering is a large factor, winter more closely follows use of the sewer system.

“While this system presents more challenges to administer than a flat rate system, it is fairer to the customer and helps to promote water conservation in the winter,” Mayer said.

Lakehaven’s capital improvement budget exceedsd $14 million. It includes a current project for building a facility to reclaim sewer biosolids for landscaping purposes, and what the district still owes for its share of Tacoma’s second supply pipeline. The latter is scheduled to begin delivering water for Lakehaven customers this year.

“These utilities are part of evolving industries that face considerable government regulation,” but the district has never considered letting the “system development initiatives languish,” said Commissioner Bev Tweddle.

Rates for 2006 will be reviewed by district officials and the commissioners this fall. In the meantime, they’ll remain the same as they’ve been since 2000.

The district, which has existed under one name or another for more than 50 years, serves a population of about 112,000, including Federal Way and some unincorporated areas of King County.

The water system has 400 miles of water lines, 22 wells and 12 storage tanks providing about 10 million gallons per day.

The sewer system includes 350 miles of mainline, 27 pump stations and two wastewater treatment plants.

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