Rate Structure

How Is the Rate Structure Determined?

The Board of Trustees sets the sewer rates. The Board reviews the rates every year as part of the budgeting process. Recommendations are made by staff, based on operation and maintenance costs, capital improvement expense, debt service and administrative costs. The rate structure utilizes a base service fee to cover administration and debt service plus a water usage or volume charge to cover operation and maintenance costs. This two-part rate structure is standard for wastewater utilities and is recommended by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Changes in Water Quality Rules Affect Sewer Rates

Substantial rate increases are needed to fund improvements mandated by federal and state regulations regarding the treatment of wastewater. In 1997, 2003 & 2008 the voters approved a total of $28,650,000 in revenue bond authority. The bonds are funding the District efforts to bring District systems into compliance with mandated water quality regulations.

One specific regulation adopted in 2003 was the Whole Body Contact (WBC) Rule. It increased the number of creeks and streams that must be suitable for fishing and swimming. Disinfection is required in treatment facilities within two miles of a creek classified for WBC. Twenty District systems were affected. The capital improvement plan was accelerated to comply with the WBC regulation. The projects can be tracked in the Projects section of this website.

Other rules in the making involve nutrient removal, such as ammonia, and anti-degradation. Changes in nutrient rules will affect the District’s operating permits and may require further improvements to facilities. These improvements are expensive and translate into rate increases.


2019 User Rate Study Update

An update of the user rate study was also completed in 2019 as part of the budget process.

Download the 2019 User Rate Study Update>


Why is my sewer bill higher than my water bill? Why are City sewer rates lower?

There are three main reasons for high sewer bills: high overhead, a mandated capital improvements program and lack of government grant money.

  • The District operates and maintains over 43 facilities spread over many miles. Each facility must be monitored and each incurs material, utility and labor costs. Other sewer utilities, the City of Columbia, for example, benefit from having an integrated collection system that drains into one major treatment plant.
  • The District must complete a $21 Million Capital Improvements Program by 2013 in order to meet stricter water quality standards. The increase in debt is resulting in significant increases in rates.
  • The District was unable to take advantage of federal grants that the water districts and the City of Columbia obtained to help cover the initial costs of constructing the water and sewer systems.