Some Richland residents can expect a rate increase of up to 41 percent for watering their lawns next year.
The Richland City Council recently voted to proceed with a proposed increase in the city's rates for pressurized service.
City staff are recommending upgrades to the Horn Rapids river pumping station as the city takes over operations next year.
The system, which is operated as part of an agricultural lease to serve farmers and city residents, needs to have its pumps and electrical equipment raised above the Columbia River flood stage and its intake screens replaced.
All of the electrical work involving the pumps is expected to be completed before the start of irrigation season next spring.
HDR Engineering also reviewed the city's water utility irrigation finances, and examined the history of operational costs, said Public Works Director Pete Rogalsky, who presented the report to city council.
As a result, city staff recommend assuming full operational control and responsibility for the system, along with improvements to the system's reliability.
The recommended rate increase is expected to cover costs and improvements for the next four years.
Customers in Horn Rapids and Meadow Springs/Willowbrook neighborhoods likely will face the highest costs, while customers in the Columbia Point can expect varying cost changes because assessments are based on parcel sizes.
Smaller parcels will see the largest increases, with a base rate of $280 a year, while the larger parcels in Columbia Point may see rates reduced.
Other parts of the city that will be affected are Smartpark and the Innovation Center in north Richland.
The proposed annual rates will see residential customers with an acre or less paying $280, which is $83 or 41 percent more.
Commercial and industrial customers, including golf courses, will pay $280 for the first acre and $115 for each additional acre. Those costs represent a 41 percent increase for the first acre and a 145 percent increase for additional acres.
The new rates are expected to bring an additional $231,000 to the Richland water utility.
City staff say the higher rates still are less than what most other irrigation districts in the Tri-Cities charge.
The Kennewick Irrigation District charges $352 for similar residential service, while the Columbia Irrigation District charges $360.
Badger Mountain Irrigation District charges $445 to residential customers.
Franklin County Irrigation District charges less at $241, while the city of Pasco's irrigation charge is the lowest in the Tri-Cities at $182.
The increases will take effect in January, and is the first irrigation water rate increase since 2008.