The Stallion Springs Community Services District Wastewater treatment plant is set for some infrastructure improvements if customers don't vote down sewer rate changes.

Residents of Stallion Springs may soon see increases for sewer rates over the next five years to fix aging infrastructure, meet state requirements and maintain existing facilities. The Stallion Springs Community Services District released a 2019 Sewer Rate Study that outlines why it sees the changes as crucial to the district.

"The rate increase proposal is based on increasing operation costs, additional improvements to the plant and the ability to meet state standards for wastewater operations," said David Aranda, general manager of Stallion Springs CSD.

Residential customers now pay a bimonthly fee of $85.48, or broken down to $42.74 per month if connected to the sewer system. Base rates are expected to double to $95.72 per month or at a bimonthly fee of $185.44 at the end of a five-year period. Commercial rates are based on the amount of water used and amenities and would also increase, said the study.

Protests against the rate changes may be made verbally or in writing before or at the upcoming board meeting at 6 p.m. July 16 at 27800 Stallion Springs Drive. Mailed notices were sent to customers before June 1 to let them know about the possible increases.

"We were only required to mail to current users, but we wanted all property owners to know what was potentially coming, even if there was no house on the lot," Aranda said.

If more than 51 percent of residents vote in opposition to the changes, it "could stop the proposed rate changes," said the study.

If residents decide not to pass the new rates, then the district may not have enough funds to cover expenses for operations and infrastructure upgrades. Some upgrades are already in progress, the study noted.

As of February of this year, the district listed more than 380 accounts for residential and commercial customers. Each year a steady addition of accounts is seen, with 364 accounts listed in 2016, said the study.

Aranda said that every effort is being made to have lower rates than those proposed in the study and fees can be regulated, so customers may pay less than the suggested base rate that is listed each year.

Proposition 218 establishes rules that funds cannot be transferred to other accounts and must not exceed the cost of service.

Aging infrastructure has sparked needed changes.

New metering, aeration improvements, transfer pump stations, tertiary filters, chlorine disinfection and other improvements are suggested, according to the study.

These improvements amount to more than $2.8 million with Stallion Springs Wastewater Treatment Plant infrastructure last updated in the 1970s, the study states.

Ed Gordon, president of the Stallion Springs Community Services District board, said, "We have to go through and upgrade the plant, and need the money to do it."

Sewer rates have not changed in an estimated 10 years, said Gordon.

New water or sewer rates are also nothing new to areas surrounding Stallion Springs. 

Both the Bear Valley Community Services District and the Golden Hills Community Services District raised water rates to help pay for new infrastructure within the last year.

Changing state regulations may require Stallion Springs to move to treating the wastewater to a tertiary level. Now wastewater is treated to a secondary level.

"The district has a long-term vision of eliminating the current discharge of treated effluent to Chanac Creek and recycling the treated effluent for irrigation," the study said. "The discharge... requires an NPDES permit which has much higher water quality standards than would be required for discharge to land."