County residents will have to stomach higher sewer bills over the next 10 years to avoid a situation that could stink even worse.
Clark County Water Reclamation District officials said Tuesday that they need the additional revenue so they can upgrade and improve the state’s largest — and often overlooked — wastewater system.
“Our service begins with the flush,” said district general manager Tom Minwegen. “This out-of-sight, out-of-mind concept leads us to be known as the unseen utility.”
The county commission, which serves as the district’s board of trustees, approved the rate increase in a unanimous vote with no public opposition.
Starting July 1, the roughly 250,000 homes and business served by the district will see their annual service charge go up by about 30 percent through 2028.
Average residential customers in unincorporated Clark County will see their bill go up by $6 to $7 a year as a result of the district’s first rate hike since 2012.
Commissioners also signed off on the agency’s request to raise its connection fee from $2,195 to $2,876 over the next three years.
The additional money will help fund $1.47 billion in construction over the next 15 years to increase the capacity of the district’s wastewater treatment plant at the eastern end of Flamingo Road, install 27 miles of new service lines and replace or rehabilitate 57 miles of existing pipes.
The biggest ticket item is a $505 million expansion of the district’s Flamingo Water Resource Center, which treats about 104.5 million gallons of sewage of a day. The district wants to increase daily capacity at the plant from 120 million gallons to 150 million gallons per day, expanding, in the process, a vital link in the community’s water-supply chain.
The Las Vegas Valley earns so-called “return-flow credits” for the wastewater it treats and returns to Lake Mead. For every gallon the Flamingo sewage treatment plant discharges into the wash, the community can draw another gallon of drinking water from the lake to use in the valley.
County commissioners last approved a multi-year sewer rate increase in 2008, but the district ended up not needing all of the additional money, prompting a 4 percent rate reduction in 2013.
Even with when the new service charges top out in 2028, district customers will still be paying some of the lowest sewer rates in the country and less than what residents already pay in Henderson, North Las Vegas, Reno, Carson City and Washoe County.