Sewer rates will be going up in Tulsa next year - but many sewer bills have gone up already. It's because sewer charges are "capped" based on how much water a person uses during the winter. Because of the drought, many people watered lawns and foundations - and now they're finding it may cause a jump in their sewer charges.
News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan explains.
George Reavis' sewer bill is going up - and he doesn't think it should. He believes his new sewer bill doesn't take into account the water he used on his lawn this winter. "Inadvertently I might have used more than I thought, but I didn't know they had this program."
The program was all explained in a letter from the city - that didn't explain it very well. 20,000 Tulsans will get the letter. Each of them will have their sewer bills go up by at least $10 a month.
Some will go up more. â€œI could pay $21.60 a month in additional sewer charges and that's for the same thing that I'm doing right now."
The difference might be in the lush lawns of the neighborhood, and the drought that lasted all winter.
The city ties the maximum sewer charge, called a cap, to the water used in the winter. That's to avoid charging sewer rates for water used on the lawn. City utility services manager Vickie Beyer: "We've had lots of calls this year and we're eager to hear from people who thing their caps are too high."
Beyer says twice as many people got letters this year than last. But they can all ask for a review that might cut their bill down to normal. "And the drought was certainly an exceptional event this year and so we want to know if people watered their lawns or foundations so we can adjust their caps accordingly."
The city says it's willing to review every increase, and take into account the drought - or leaks - even lots of company at Christmas that might have thrown off their estimate.
The response from citizens has prompted the Tulsa City Council to ask for an explanation of home sewer charges and how the drought will be taken into consideration.
The number to call to start a review is 596-9511.