The Water Resources Advisory Board is recommending a 5 percent water fee increase, a 25 percent wastewater fee increase and a 71 percent stormwater fee increase, for a $13-a-month total increase in the average residential bill.
City officials believe the sewer backups were a result of infiltration and inflow -- groundwater getting into the sewer pipes under the extreme conditions of the flood. One way to limit such infiltration is to line older clay pipes. The city already spends $500,000 a year on such lining but only lines a small percentage of its pipes for that money.
Jeff Arthur, director of public works for utilities, told the City Council on Tuesday night that a 25 percent increase in wastewater rates would allow the city to complete the lining of its clay pipes in 20 years, and that rate increase would be part of the department's budget request for next year.
"There is a pretty direct correlation between rates and our ability to invest in the system," he said.
Public works also discovered, as part of its assessment of potential flood damage, that the main interceptor pipe that delivers wastewater to the treatment plant on 75th Street was seriously degraded.
The damage was not related to the flood, and the city is not eligible for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Arthur gave a very rough estimate of $10 million to repair the interceptor line. The city would issue debt to pay for that repair, and it would not contribute significantly to rate increases, Arthur said.
Jean Nelson, a Boulder resident, said more than 900 people were affected by sewer backups during the flood, and the city should consider doing the lining and other infrastructure improvements more quickly, even if it costs more in the short-term.
"Millions of dollars have been spent by Boulder homeowners as a result of the flood," she said. "Inflow and infiltration is a serious problem. Many of those affected roll their eyes at the idea of the city taking over their electric service. It is not politically wise to ignore sewage."