Rate Structure

How Is the Rate Structure Determined?

The Board of Trustees sets the sewer rates. The Board reviews the rates every year as part of the budgeting process. Recommendations are made by staff, based on operation and maintenance costs, capital improvement expense, debt service and administrative costs. The rate structure utilizes a base service fee to cover administration and debt service plus a water usage or volume charge to cover operation and maintenance costs. This two-part rate structure is standard for wastewater utilities and is recommended by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Changes in Water Quality Rules Affect Sewer Rates

Substantial rate increases are needed to fund improvements mandated by federal and state regulations regarding the treatment of wastewater. In April of 2008, the voters granted the District $21 Million in revenue bond authority. The bonds will help the District bring a number of existing District systems into compliance with state and federally mandated regulations that must be met by the year 2013.

The rule change, often referred to as the Whole Body Contact (WBC) Rule, became effective April 2006. It mandates that many more of the state's creeks must be suitable for fishing and swimming. Disinfection is required for treatment facilities within 2 miles of a creek classified for WBC. Deadlines for compliance depend on the operating permit for the particular system. All wastewater treatment facilities must meet these new requirements by December 31, 2013. Twenty District systems are affected with compliance dates from 2010 to 2013. Other rules in the making involve nutrient removal and anti-degradation.

2015 User Rate Study Update

An update of the user rate study was also completed in 2015 as part of the budget process.

Download the 2015 User Rate Study Update>


Why is my sewer bill higher than my water bill? Why are City sewer rates lower?

There are three main reasons for high sewer bills: high overhead, a mandated capital improvements program and lack of government grant money.

  • The District operates and maintains over 50 facilities spread over many miles. Each facility must be monitored and each incurs material, utility and labor costs. Other sewer utilities, the City of Columbia, for example, benefit from having an integrated collection system that drains into one major treatment plant.
  • The District must complete a $21 Million Capital Improvements Program by 2013 in order to meet stricter water quality standards. The increase in debt is resulting in significant increases in rates.
  • The District was unable to take advantage of federal grants that the water districts and the City of Columbia obtained to help cover the initial costs of constructing the water and sewer systems.