By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Keyes proposed sewer, water rate hikes
Placeholder Image
Keyes residents are facing the prospects of higher monthly payments for water and sewer rates due to corresponding conditions.

Sewer rates are proposed by the Keyes Community Services District (KCSD) to increase by 47 percent over the next three years in order to pay for a new lift station that pumps wastewater to the Turlock city plant. Without a lift station, no additional sewer connections can be made beyond the 1,525 already served.

In addition, water rates are also expected to double - also in increments over a three-year period - to pay for expensive filtration to lower arsenic levels within safe margins.

Under Proposition 218, residents within the KCSD are being given a chance to protest the proposed increases. A protest hearing is slated for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 24 at the Keyes Community Center, 5506 Jennie Avenue. Over half of those served must lodge a written or verbal protest to half the KCSD board from implementing the increases. If less than half protest - which is expected to be the case - rates would be triggered to start the climb on July 1.

Keyes residents faced water rate increases in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Officials at KCSD were informed by the state it must lower traces of arsenic in the town's potable water supply since decades-long exposure could result in bladder and lung cancers, damage to skin and problems with the circulatory system.

Keyes gets its water supply from four water wells but three tested for higher than allowed arsenic levels.

In 2006 when the state of California lowered its limits on arsenic in domestic water supplies to 10 parts per billion, a number of communities in the Valley had to seek expensive treatment options. Nine agencies in Stanislaus County are known to have dealt with high arsenic levels. Keyes has an arsenic level of 14.2 parts per million, which do not pose an immediate hazard to human health.

A consultant indicated that it could cost KCSD $8 million to develop a treatment facility to handle the element and others. The other option is to drill new wells which have better quality water.

Keyes residents pay a flat monthly water rate of $18.71 plus a metered charged of 76 cents for every 748 gallons of water used. Monthly sewer service runs $43.68 per month.

The district mailed out Prop. 218 protest hearing letters on March 1 and the KCSD office has yet to hear much back from the community, noted administrative assistant Michelle Harris.