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County Approves Ordinances to Reduce Sewer Service Charges and Allow Temporary Connections for Residents Displaced by the Fires

Posted on December 13, 2017

The Sonoma County Water Agency (Water Agency) Board of Directors and the Board of Directors of the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District unanimously approved an ordinance to prorate annual sewer charges for residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the Sonoma Complex Fires in October, 2017. The Water Agency Board of Directors and the Boards of the Occidental, Russian River, Sonoma Valley, and South Park County Sanitation Districts also unanimously approved an ordinance allowing customers displaced by the fires to temporarily connect recreational vehicles and other temporary housing to sanitation districts and zones operated by the Water Agency.

“The goal in approving these ordinances is to alleviate the financial burden placed on those members of our community who have been most affected by the recent fires,” said Sonoma County Supervisor and Water Agency Director Shirlee Zane, who serves as Board Chairwoman. “Sonoma County continues to face a housing crisis that has been magnified by the Sonoma Complex Fires, and we want to support residents’ housing needs while they work to rebuild their homes and lives.”

Under the Proration Urgency Ordinance, sewer service charges, which are issued annually, will be prorated such that customers displaced by the fires in Airport-Larkfield-Wikiup Sanitation Zone and Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District will only pay for the three months that they received sewer service this fiscal year (July, August and September). Displaced customers who have already paid their annual sewer service charge will receive a refund, and those who have yet to pay their sewer service charge will see a prorated sewer charge on their revised tax bill.

On October 24, 2017, the Board of Supervisors adopted Sonoma County Urgency Ordinance No. 6210 that temporarily allows residents displaced by the fires to live in recreational vehicles while homes are repaired or rebuilt. In support of County Urgency Ordinance No. 6210, the Temporary Connection Urgency Ordinance allows for displaced customers to temporarily connect to the sewer through any of the sanitation zones owned and operated by the Water Agency, including Airport-Larkfield-Wikiup, Geyserville, Penngrove, and the Sea Ranch, or any of the sanitation districts operated by the Water Agency including Occidental, Russian River, Sonoma Valley, and South Park. Connection fees will not be charged for temporary connections, however temporary connections will be assessed sewer service charges.

Approximately 16% of residences in the Airport-Larkfield-Wikiup Sanitation Zone and less than 1% of residences in the Sonoma County Valley Sanitation District were rendered uninhabitable by the Sonoma Complex Fires.

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