Manila district may raise water rates next year

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

MANILA – Due to the closure of a local sawmill and increases in wholesale water prices, the Manila Community Services District (Manila CSD) is looking at raising its combined water and sewer rates sometime next year.

The Manila CSD Board of Directors agreed April 21 to request proposals from consultants to prepare a water and sewer rate study – a prelude to a rate hike.

The biggest hit to the district’s water budget is the closure of the Sierra Pacific Industries sawmill, located along the banks of Mad River Slough. The plant milled its last log at the end of March and is in the process of being fully shuttered.

The mill is the district’s biggest customer, accounting for 10 percent, or $17,400, of its water budget and 7 percent, or $13,400, of its sewer budget.

While revenues are predicted to dip when the mill finally closes, the cost of providing water to residents of the salty outpost is steadily rising.

The cost for the district to purchase water from its wholesale water supplier, the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District (HBMWD), may go up by $10,000 in the next fiscal year.

The losses from the mill and the increased cost of buying water would likely be passed on to the district’s 350 customers.

Although the mill will cease to use water when it’s closed, that won’t result in any savings for the district, which gets a water allocation from the HBMWD and isn’t charged by the gallons used.

The district, however, may see a small amount of savings in sewer costs when the mill is finely closed.

The request for proposals from consultants may be sent out this summer, with the rates increased sometime next year.

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