PUBLIC WORKS AND UTILITIES COMMITTEE
The city of Duluth does ordain:
Section 1. That Chapter 43 of the Duluth City Code 1959, as amended, is hereby amended by repealing Section 43-9 thereof in its entirety.
Section 2. That this ordinance shall take effect 30 days after its passage and publication.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: This ordinance is to amend the city’s sewer code to eliminate the allowance presently given on sanitary sewer service bills for water usage assumed to be used for sprinkling of lawns and similar uses which do not reach the sanitary sewer system.
Sanitary sewer bills are generally computed based on the volume of water consumed on any property served by the city’s sanitary sewer system. It is a system assumption that this is a reliable measure of the volume of sewage entering the city’s sanitary sewer system from the property.
A major exception to this method of determining usage is based on the assumption that a served property will not generate more waste in the summer than they do in non-summer months. It is therefore assumed that any increase in water usage is the result of such activities as lawn and garden watering and other activities where the water used goes into the storm water system, is evaporated or is otherwise disposed of without entering the sanitary sewer system. Therefore the Code mandates that the charges for sewer service from April through August of each year be based on the average of those charged to the property during the preceding October through March.
This ordinance would propose to eliminate this credit. First, the justification for the underlying assumptions has never been empirically proven and is therefore suspect. Secondly, even in this age of computer tracking and billing generation, there is significant cost to the city to operate the credit program over and above what the city’s costs are of operating a simplified billing system. Additionally, the value of the credits to the customers on a monthly basis is relatively small, bringing into question their justification if a cost-benefit analysis is applied. Finally, this program diverts revenues from the sewer budget and the I&I program which are badly needed to assist in addressing the costs of meeting the federal mandates being imposed on the city.