Free Flowing Sewers & Storm Drains Carry Costs
The economic and public health benefits associated with reliable municipal sewer and stormwater programs are numerous. Both systems require careful maintenance and fiscal oversight for sound operation. The City of Brea has provided this since 1925, when parts of the existing sewer system were first built.
As the city has developed over the past 80 plus years, the sewer system has become a self-sustaining enterprise. Given the rise in operational and maintenance costs and the need to repair deficiencies in the sewer system, an adjustment to the existing sewer rates are proposed. Plans also are complete to introduce a comprehensive stormwater management system under a separate self-sustaining program.
For the first time in 19 years, a fee increase was proposed (and approved) in October 2006 to cover rising expenses for providing services and to adequately fund a capital improvement program necessary to replace and rehabilitate some portions of the system. Throughout the state, agencies are challenged with significant increased costs to meet numerous requirements from the California Regional Water Quality Control Board. Stricter mandates, backed by hefty fines for non-compliance, are prompting smart infrastructure upgrades to assure long-term cost control. Fines for sewer spills can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for each incident.
Brea has been very diligent in upholding high standards for ongoing maintenance practices over these many years. Therefore, the system has been reliable despite infrastructure that is overdue for replacement. The council has determined it is now time to move ahead with key projects recommended in the Sewer Master Plan.
Rates & Fees
Fees derive from customer type and the meter size used, plus a usage charge reflecting wastewater flows that are generated. A qualified independent consultant developed these new rate charts after studying all cost components and doing highly detailed comparisons. The new fee structure directs future income into two distinct funds:
- The first fund pays for direct expenses related to operation, maintenance, and regulatory compliance
- The second fund is earmarked for capital improvements
Gradual increases will provide adequate resources to fund the program. After 15 years, the fee is expected to reach a maximum amount of about $12.60 a month. Within Orange County this bumps Brea, after enjoying many years as the lowest priced agency, into a moderate range compared to other current municipal charges. However, over the longer term Brea will continue to deliver an excellent value to its customers as many of these other agencies are just now beginning their upward adjustment processes.
In the Future
The Brea City Council considers proposed increases in sewer fees, as well as adoption of stormwater rates after accepting public comment during noticed public hearings within regular council meetings. Once approved, changes are incorporated into your monthly utility billing from the City of Brea.
Brea’s staff develops all recommendations for both the sewer and stormwater programs using City Council direction to be fiscally responsible while still maintaining high customer service levels. For answers to specific questions, contact Brea water utility billing at 714-990-7687.
The photos below are actual images taken by Brea's vactor truck, which is routinely used by the Maintenance Services Department for troubleshooting repairs and determining future project areas. The sequence shows typical sewer line problems: cracks, offsets, and root obstructions.