The City of Santa Barbara is proposing a 10% sewer rate increase that home owners would notice on their bills starting July 1st.This comes after the City previously proposed a 4% increase and was sued by local environmental group, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper.The City and Channelkeeper settled the Clean Water Act lawsuit.The settlement agreement commits the City to a rigorous and proactive program to upgrade its aging sewer system.To cover the cost of this agreement, an extra 6% will be tacked on to the original 4% that was proposed.”The City will essentially have to double the rate of pipe replacement and repair,” Channelkeeper Director of Watershed Programs, Ben Pitterle said.The Santa Barbara Public Works Department replaces around 2.5 miles of old sewer pipe every year. With the push from Channelkeepers, Public Works will now be replacing 4.5 miles of aged sewer per year for the next 5 years.In 2010 and 2011, the number of sewer spills or leaks in the City of Santa Barbara decreased by 70%, from 42 to 12. And in 2011 none of the leaks reached creeks or beaches.A public hearing for the proposed rate hikes is scheduled for June 12, 2012, at 2:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, City Hall, 735 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara.
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