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Water, sewer rates increase

Residents will see an increase in their water and sewer rates when they receive their bill in April.

The city council has been discussing adjusting water rates since July 2023. The new rates went into effect March 1. According to the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the average household in the state uses 5,000 gallons of water a month.

City administrator Justin Weiland said they restructured the tiers to adjust the ranges. The base rate went from $4.50 to $4.75. Use of zero to 9,999 gallons went from $4.05 to $4.25 per thousand gallons. The old rate for 10,000-19,999 gallons was $4.50 per thousand gallons. The new tier and rate is for 10,000-24,999 gallons is $6.50 per thousand gallons.

The biggest change is the top tier. The old tier and rate was $4.90 per thousand gallons for 20,000-999,999+ gallons. The new tier and rate is $25 per thousand gallons for 25,000-999,999+ gallons.

“That’s a lot of water for a residential customer to be using,” Weiland said. “They restructured these to really discourage really high end, high volume use. Still allowing in that 10-25,000 range if you really want to water your lawn you can still water your lawn and not be drastically affected.”

The city gets all of its water from the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System. The city has an allotment. Weiland said one of the biggest concerns is overuse as the city continues to grow.

“One of the biggest reasons that we are trying to create better water usage habits is because we’re going to continue to grow. We are going to be in excess of what our allotment is in the very near future if we continue to use water at the rate we are,” Weiland said. “We are trying to create better habits for the future because we will have to become more aggressive with these rates and watering restrictions during the summer if we don’t try to educate people to be more conservative with their water.”

The city has an ordinance in place that limits water use to lawn watering for even-numbered houses on even-numbered calendar days and odd-numbered houses on odd-numbered calendar days.

“Lewis & Clark is doing another expansion and that will help because we will have additional water available, but that isn’t enough to sustain even for the next decade at the rate that we’re growing,” he said. “We’re having discussions with Lewis & Clark about additional sources of water if they’re going to provide that or if the city needs to find another outside source of water for the future because we will need another source of water in the next 15-20 years.”

On the sewer side, the base rate will remain $32. The SDC surcharge has been lowered from $10 to $6.50. An additional monthly fee of $12 will cover the costs incurred to hook up to the Sioux Falls regionalization project.

The city started pumping to Sioux Falls in January. Weiland said they are pumping about 50 percent of the inflow to the city of Sioux Falls per day. In the summer months, the pumping will probably go up. 

“We’re working toward decommissioning of the lagoons and study that and strategize timelines and how to best approach that,” he said.

The city’s discharge permit for the lagoons goes through 2026.

“From an odor perspective, we want to get our odor under control. That’s why we’re beginning to pump more. These lagoons that we have aren’t designed to handle the population and inflow that’s going into them currently,” Weiland said.

Pumping to Sioux Falls will help them pump down the ponds. However, they will always have some storage because the pump station and the pipes can only handle so many gallons at a time.

Weiland said if residents have questions to call city hall for help.

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