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Tualatin Valley Water District water bills could rise $60 a year

District customers would help pay for Willamette River water supply project and other rising expenses

   A typical residential customer will pay another $60 per year for water if Tualatin Valley Water District's board approves a proposed rate hike.

The district will host a public hearing on the proposed increase at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17, at district headquarters, 1850 S.W. 170th Ave., Beaverton.

If the board approves the new rates that same evening, the rates would take effect Nov. 1 and help the district pay for a new water supply and other costs.

The proposal would raise costs for a typical household by the equivalent of $5.13 per month, a 14.4 percent increase that would tack more than $10 onto the drinking water portion of an average family’s bi-monthly bill.

Larger residential users and business customers would see correspondingly larger bills.

The proposed rate increase would come on top of a similarly large increase in 2015, when a $10 bi-monthly rise was the largest in recent memory.

TVWD’s bills are combined on a single bi-monthly bill with the wastewater and sewer fees that Clean Water Services levies.

CWS’s board approved more modest rate increases that took effect in July, adding about $20 for a year’s worth of utility bills.

TVWD provides drinking water to more than 200,000 residents of a large area that includes unincorporated communities of Aloha, Rock Creek, Bethany, Cedar Mill and others, in addition to parts of the cities of Beaverton, Hillsboro, Tigard and Metzger.

Much of the increase will help TVWD pay its share of the Willamette River Water Supply project, which will add a long-term and more resilient water source for large parts of Washington County.

"That really is a legacy investment in a new water source for the west side of the region," said Alex Cousins, the district's communications director. "It really is going to be the most predictable supply when it goes online."

Water rates also help fund seismic upgrades and other infrastructure improvements across the district, such as replacing water lines, reservoirs and pump stations.

The bigger bills also help pay for other cost increases, including a 10.3 percent boost in the cost of wholesale water that TVWD buys from the Portland Water Bureau.

Cousins said the district's board is mindful about raising rates, especially for lower-income residents.

They have formed a new advisory committee to study rate affordability and come up with recommendations to help customers, Cousins said. The committee will begin meeting this month.