This web site is here for the members of Payne County Rural Water District No.3 in Oklahoma. Its purpose is to keep you informed on what is going on throughout the district, and to help you understand how we run the district.

Range Rd Project

The District is laying 2 miles of 6-inch water line along Range Rd from 80th Street to 56th Street. The project replaces a 2-inch water line. This will allow us to move a larger volume of water to the membership in the area and maintain pressure in times of high water use. We will place fill hydrants at 56th & Range Rd and 80th & Range Rd to aid fire protection.

Stillwater Water Rates

Stillwater water rates could increase 48 percent by 2020

By Michelle Charles/Stillwater News Press

As the trustees of the Stillwater Utilities Authority heard options for water and sewer rates Monday, one thing quickly became clear: Avoiding an increase isn’t an option because the system needs at least 8 percent more in revenue per year.

Today’s customers are playing catch up because previous customers paid rates that were too low to maintain the water and sewer systems and put money aside to cover repairs as the system aged and depreciated, said Stillwater Utilities Authority Director Dan Blankenship.

“We’re behind and we need to catch up,” he said. “Our system is reliable and meets water quality standards but if we don’t fund depreciation, we’ll continue to work backward.”

City councilor and SUA trustee Gina Noble said when she was elected she signed up to receive emergency alerts, including utility notifications. She expressed reluctance to raise rates but said she gets about 10 notifications a day about water line breaks.

The city’s Water 2040 plan addresses recent water pressure deficiencies in the southwest section of Stillwater and improvements to ensure the city meets projected demand through 2040. It will cost $80 million.

Thomas Beckley of Raftelis Financial Consultants outlined different options for covering the cost of the Water 2040 program.

The city could pursue a just-in-time strategy that would hold off water rate increases for four years then jump prices by 46 percent in 2019 and 20 percent in 2020.

As an alternative, it could implement a series of smaller increases, bumping rates 8 percent a year from 2016-2019 and 9 percent in 2020. The smaller, “smoothed” increases ultimately cost less.

The trustees also were presented with options for across-the-board increases or inclining block rates that would charge customers with larger meters a higher base charge and increase rates as a customer used more water.

The water bill for a 3,500 gallon per month user would hold steady at $29.70 in 2015 then increase to $34.64 if rates increased across-the-board. The Trustees asked Beckley to adjust the rates under the inclining block rate but that approach was projected to save customers 12.2 percent.

Conversely, biting the bullet and taking a 26 percent sewer rate increase in 2016 results in a smaller cumulative increase compared to a series of eight percent increases.

The sewer bill for a 3,500 gallon per month user would go from $19.68 to $24.80 if rates increased across the board and $22.12 if based on volume.

“We have mountain in front of us,” Blankenship said. “It took us many, many years to get where we are and it’s going to take many, many, many, years to get to where depreciation is all we’re funding.”

As part of the cost of service study, Raftelis gathered input from customers, city staff and the utilities authority trustees to develop objectives for a water pricing structure. The different groups had slightly different priorities.

Staff listed revenue stability, cost of service and rate stability as its top three concerns while the trustees listed rate stability, affordability and revenue stability as their top three.

Not surprisingly, the public listed affordability as its top concern, followed by rate stability and sustainability.

Staff will rework the rate structures and bring new numbers to the trustees.