City of San Carlos - Sewer Master Plan
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Sewer Collection System

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The City of San Carlos provides sewer service to approximately 11,100 residential and commercial sewer connections within the City.  Residential customers account for roughly 90% of total accounts and 80% of wastewater flows.  The City encompasses 5.9 square miles and has a population of approximately 28,800.

The City owns and operates a wastewater collection system consisting of over 105 miles of sewer pipelines and 6 sewer pump stations.  Wastewater is conveyed from the City to the South Bayside System Authority (SBSA)--a regional wastewater treatment plant jointly owned by San Carlos, Belmont, Redwood City, and the West Bay Sanitary District -- for treatment and subsequent discharge into the San Francisco Bay.  A small percentage of SBSA's wastewater is treated to higher levels and used as recycled water by Redwood City.  In addition to serving City customores, the City also conveys wastewater from four small neighboring County-operated sewer maintenance districts to the regional wastewater treatment plant.

To access the current rates that were adopted by City Council at the July 8, 2013 meeting, please refer to the City of San Carlos Municipal Code section of our website. The current rates are listed under Section 13.08.160.

The City Council will be considering sewer rate increases at a public hearing on May 28, 2013 at 7pm in the Council Chambers. Information regarding the need for the rate increases can be viewed below.

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Capacity Assurance Plan – In 2012 the City identified approximately $10 million of sewer system capacity improvements needed over the next 5 years (through 2017/18) to prevent overflows and meet requirements of a legal settlement (Consent Decree) with San Francisco Baykeeper. These costs were addressed last year during hearings that resulted in a 6% rate increase in all categories.

To access the Capacity Assurance Report, click here.

City Sewer System Capital Needs – A recently-completed Sewer Master Plan identifies the need for $42 to $72 million over the next 20 years for repairs, rehabilitation, and replacement of aging City sewer pipelines, 60% of which are between 50 and 100 years old and approaching the end of their useful lives. Higher-priority near-term needs are estimated to range from roughly $12 to $20 million depending on if the City opts to pursue a minimum cost approach or a more comprehensive replacement program. Master Plan funding needs equate to roughly $2.1 to $3.6 million on average per year. Together, the Consent Decree and Master Plan sewer infrastructure improvements will require a higher level of capital funding than the City’s sewer rates have historically supported.

You may view, download or print the Sewer Collection System Master Plan here:

SBSA 10-Year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) – South Bayside System Authority (SBSA) has embarked on a $420 million plan to rebuild its aging sewer force main and regional wastewater treatment plant. San Carlos is responsible for 15.14% of project costs equating to approximately $64 million. SBSA has been pursuing a combination of low-rate State Revolving Fund (SRF) financing supplemented by bond financing; the City’s share of SBSA debt service is projected to ramp up from the current level of $670,000 to about $4.5 million annually over the next 5 years.

In addition, SBSA also anticipates needing to fund an additional $100 million nutrient removal project in approximately 5-7 years to comply with future permit requirements. The City’s share of costs, estimated at $15 million, are projected to be financed by SBSA resulting in an additional $1.1 million of annual debt service. This cost is not included in the proposed three year rate adjustments, but it is included in the ten year rate projections. It is a primary reason that the rates would need to continue to rise after the third year.

Click the link to view South Bayside System Authority (SBSA) information regarding wastewater treatment.

Ongoing Cost Inflation – In general, water and sewer enterprises need 3% to 5% annual rate adjustments to keep revenues in line with utility cost inflation. For financial planning purposes, the financial projections developed in this report assume that City operating costs escalate at an annual rate of 4%, and SBSA wastewater treatment costs escalate at an annual rate of 5%. Sewer rates in San Carlos are, and would continue to be, at the median or below compared with neighboring agencies.

April 8, 2013 City Council Meeting