ANTIOCH -- Higher rates for sewer service are in the pipeline for residents throughout East Contra Costa County.
The Delta Diablo Sanitation District board this week unanimously approved a 6.5 percent increase, meaning that Pittsburg, Antioch and Bay Point residents will pay an additional $1.49 per month, or $17.88 per year, for wastewater treatment.
More than half of the rate increase is aimed at covering expenses Delta Diablo has no control over, such as chemicals and electricity, along with replacing aging pipes and pump stations, said Karen Ustin, the district's business services director.
"This plant has been here for close to 40 years now, and things are starting to wear out. We must maintain those to provide the service to protect public health and the environment," Ustin said.
The remaining amount will be set aside to build a $125 million facility to meet new regulatory requirements to remove ammonia and other nutrients in water treatment.
If it had waited until the "eleventh hour," that would have meant a one-time rate spike of 40 percent, or $120, Ustin said. But by "smoothing it in," the increase is about 22 percent over eight years.
Of the 52,800 district residents notified about the increase, only 10 protested the hike via letter or in person. Most were seniors saying they are on fixed incomes.
Antioch Mayor Wade Harper commended Delta Diablo's efforts to defray costs for ratepayers, including adding solar projects, obtaining grant funds and reducing employee retirement costs.
"I believe in what Delta Diablo is doing and providing a high quality of life for our residents," Harper said.
Pittsburg Councilwoman Nancy Parent said that other East Bay agencies are increasing rates more for less work than Delta Diablo is considering.
Delta Diablo will charge Antioch residents $296.56 annually on their property taxes; Pittsburg residents $301.22; and Bay Point residents $421.44. Bay Point's rates include wastewater collection from homes to pumping stations. Pittsburg and Antioch have their own pipes for that, which determine the fees that residents pay.
Delta Diablo's charges include a monthly street-sweeping service. Pittsburg chose to have streets swept twice a month, so residents pay double, or $10.26 each year. Ironhouse Sanitary District increased its rates 3 percent earlier this month for Oakley and Bethel Island property owners, from $618 to $637.
Brentwood's sewer rates will also increase 3 percent, part of a five-year plan the City Council passed last November. Discovery Bay rates for sewer will go up 4 percent, part of a four-year plan by the town's Community Services District.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.