On Saturday, February 2, the Sewer District received a phone call from a homeowner on the waterfront to report that sewage was backing up through their home’s sewer clean-out pipe located next to their home. Our plant manager immediately responded and determined that the problem was that the lift station had stopped working. Further investigation revealed that both circuit breakers for the lift station’s primary and back up pumps had tripped. In addition, the phone alert system failed.
After re-starting the lift station, the plant manager immediately alerted the Kitsap County Health District. The Health District issued a news release advising the public to avoid contact with the water in the affected area through Sunday, February 10.
For further information, please go to www.kitsappublichealth.org/beaches.
Since the incident, the lift station pumps have continued to work without problem. District staff has replaced the alarm system’s batteries, a new secondary mechanical feature is being constructed for additional back-up support; and, in addition to the District’s ongoing maintenance schedule, testing of the pump station’s alarm system will be implemented on a weekly basis.
The Sewer District apologizes for this incident to those few homeowners who were directly impacted, and to our customers, the community as a whole, and the general area with whom we share the Puget Sound and its natural environment. Through this experience we are working to develop better ways in communicating with our community in times of crisis. We welcome your feedback; and as always, we welcome your participation at our public monthly board meetings.
New City Tax: Why your Sewer Bill is Going Up
Your monthly bill has gone up – that’s because the Bainbridge City Council voted on November 22 to impose a 6% utility tax on the sewer district. The city didn’t tell us that they passed the tax – we only found out by reading the newspaper. This new tax is apparently intended for the city’s general fund.
For years, the city has collected this tax from water and sewer customers on the city’s system in Winslow. Some city councilmembers told us that they believe it’s fairer to levy the tax on all water and sewer customers island wide. But they didn’t do that. Instead, they voted to only tax the Fort Ward sewer system, the KPUD water system and other government and for profit systems. This means that about three-fourths of the island’s population is still exempt from the tax.
Since we didn’t receive official notice from the city about this tax until after Christmas, we have been scrambling to work out the details, which is why your sewer bill is later than normal.
Your bill is going up about 3%, even though the city tax is 6% on sewer district revenues. That’s because the city says the revenue we receive from them for providing treatment for about 290 connections outside the district is exempt from the tax. (The city already collects the tax from those customers.) But our contract with the city requires us to charge the same rate for customers, whether they are inside or outside the district. So we are spreading the burden across all of our customers, including about 290 connections for homes outside the district.
We commissioners believe that sewer service is not a luxury item – it is a basic, essential service. That’s why we do our best to keep your bills low; in fact, your monthly sewer rates are about half what the city charges its customers.
If you would like to comment on this new tax imposed by the city, you can reach your city councilmembers via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A special meeting of the sewer district is scheduled to discuss the City of Bainbridge Island’s wastewater account. Both new connections charges and monthly service fees will be discussed, as well as the outstanding balances for each. The meeting will be held at 7:00 PM on Thursday, October 4th at 2017 Belfair Ave. NE, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110.