Addendum: A Little Bit More about Utilities

Since the last post, I’ve gathered a few more specific details about the way the non-“improvement” portion of our City utility bills are calculated, and a bit of information on assisted utility rates.  Standard disclaimer applies.

These numbers all assume you’re a residential customer inside Cottage Grove city limits and your meter is either a 5/8″ or 3/4″ size.  (If you want information on commercial or out-of-town rates, etc., please call the City.)

First, a note on meters.  The vast majority of homes in Cottage Grove have a 5/8″ or 3/4″ meter, and the water rates are the same for both.  A few homes have 1″ meters, and the fixed costs are higher for those, because that means the City must provide more standing capacity for those homes.  Your meter size is based on the number of fixtures (sinks, toilets, sprinkler heads, etc.) you have attached to the system, because you could, if you wanted to, activate all of them at once.  If you have a 1″ meter and you, say, rip out a bathroom you’re not using or otherwise eliminate some fixtures, you can let the City know and get your meter downsized to take advantage of the cheaper rates for smaller meters.  Anyway…


Assuming something smaller than a 1″ meter, your fixed costs on the water (i.e. the cost to deliver the water to you) total out to $16.44 per month.

Your variable costs (i.e. the cost of the water itself), on the other hand, change based on how much you consume:

  • 1-5999 gallons: $1.31 per 1000 gallons (or around a penny for every 7.6 gallons).
  • 6000 – 15000 gallons: $1.60 per 1000 gallons (or around a penny for every 6.25 gallons).
  • 15001+ gallons: $1.88 per 1000 gallons (or around a penny for every 5.3 gallons).

The change in rate is the incentive to conserve.  It’s not a huge incentive, but it’s there.

Waste Water

For waste water, there’s a $7.28 fixed cost, and a variable rate of $3.74 per 100 gallons (about 2.7 gallons per penny).  Pretty straightforward.

There’s no incentive to conserve here, because we really don’t want people trying to save money by storing in closets and crawlspaces what they would otherwise flush down a toilet.  ‘Cause, you know, eww.

Storm Drain

Assuming you don’t have some weirdness going on at your home, like a helipad or a parking lot, you’re going to pay $3.37 for storm drains (regardless of the number of gallons that nature dumps on your property each month).

There’s no incentive to conserve here, either, because we know you have little say over how much rain a given cloud is going to drop.  (If you manage to build a weather-control ray, on the other hand, please do let us know; we can put you in touch with several local festivals who’d probably like to rent it on an annual basis.)

Assisted Rates

There are a few situations that make a household eligible for “assisted rates”, which constitute a modest reduction in your bill.  These situations are:

If you are a single individual, you must be:

  • Over 65 years of age.
  • Living alone.
  • Own no real property other than the home.
  • Total household income must be under $1265.00 per month.

If you are an elderly couple or a single elderly with dependent:

  • One member of the couple or the head of household must be over 65 years of age.
  • Own no real property other than the home.
  • Total household income must be under $1705.00 per month.

If you are a totally disabled person, you must:

  • Be recognized as being totally disabled by the Social Security Administration or Worker’s Compensation.
  • Own no real property other than the home.
  • Total household income must be under $1705.00 per month.

If you fall into any of these categories, you are invited to stop by City Hall to pick up an Application for Assisted Rates form (ask at the front counter for all the details).

— Jake

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