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With NKY Sanitation Bill Reboot, Residents Have Questions

Sanitation District No. 1 is implementing a new billing structure for Northern Kentucky customers today.

Every SD1 residential customer will be charged a base rate of $16, which covers 200-cubic feet of water treatment and a $5 sanitary sewer overflow. A variable rate of $7.25 will be charged for each additional hundred cubic feet of wastewater above the minimum.

The $5 sanitary fee will fund sewer overflows and reduce Northern Kentucky's sanitary sewer overflow by 2040. The fee will allow SD1 to fulfill a federal requirement under an amended Clean Water Act Consent Decree.

Christopher Vaught-Hall is a Boone County resident and SD1 customer. He says he is concerned money isn't supporting infrastructure changes.  "All over their website they talk about how they are supposed to be mitigating risk of flooding and preventing your storm water from backing up into your home," he says. "You also hear about Covington that flooded and their sewer systems were not taken care of properly. Where was SD1 during that?"

"SD1 is charged with providing safe and reliable storm water services to our customers," says SD1's Chris Cole. "We are planning several improvement projects in strategic areas that will help address flooding and sewer backups, but none of those projects will completely eliminate the risk of flooding during extreme weather. That is why our Backup Assistance Program is so important - it is the most effective tool to help protect pubic health and property during major rain events."

In the past, sewer rates were based on water consumption.

Cole says when they compared their billing to utility companies throughout the region, they didn’t match up. "Our low-volume users were paying significantly less than theirs and our high-volume users were paying significantly more than theirs," he says. Cole adds the new structure will balance everything out.

Vaught-Hall says he has taken his concerns to SD1 and was told to check for leaky toilets or water lines dripping under his home.

SD1 is partnering with a local organization to cover the incremental increase for low- and fixed-income people.

"The restructure is not about bringing in more revenue," Cole says. "The low-volume users are going to see their bills go up but the high-volume users will see their rates go down. Those two will actually level out."

The fixed rate will continue to increase and the variable rate will decrease over the next four years. Cole says no one's bill will go up more than $5 each month because of this change.

Customers will see a change on their August bill.

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