COTTONWOOD – At a Monday, Aug. 19 budget hearing and special meeting, the Cottonwood City Council approved a $1,739,619 budget for fiscal year 2020, along with utility rate increases.

There were no citizens present outside of the Chronicle reporter with just one written comment asking that they not increase the utility bills.

Sewer commissioner Don Munkers presented some information as to why the sewer rate needs to be increased.

Based on Cottonwood’s population of 900 people, according to Munkers, the city should be generating 22.7 million gallons of wastewater in a year’s time. This past year, the city processed more than 59 million gallons, a difference of more than 36 million gallons.

The city’s permit allows up to 29 million gallons. Munkers reported the difference is the inflow and infiltration of the system, which hasn’t seen much attention other than patching done since the 1950s or ‘60s.

Inflow comes from improper connections that let water into the system through other than sanitary fixtures such as foundation drains, roof drains, basement sump pumps and drains from driveways.

Infiltration is water entering the system through cracks or leaks in the collection system pipes. There are apparently several of these, as the city notes a large increase in flow every time there is a storm.

If they don’t get the flow numbers down they could be facing huge fines for violating their permit, according to Munkers. For instance, the City of Nezperce recently received notification they could be facing fines of $50,000 per day for violating their permit. That works out to $1.5 million per month, which would come to about $1700 per person in town per month (considerably more per household).

The sanitation rate increase is basically a pass through of the rate increase from Walco, Inc.

Council also passed resolutions regarding the sewer and sanitation rate increases. These increases amount to an additional $15 per month for sewer and 94¢ for sanitation.

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