Sewer Rates

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Proposed Sewer Rate Increases

What do sewer utility rates fund?
The sewer rates fund operations, maintenance, and capital improvements program, to keep the sewer system operational. The city’s sewer utility system includes about 95 miles of sewer mains, seven pump stations, and a wastewater treatment facility.  

Why sewer utility rate increases?
The City has not increased the sewer utility rates since July 2012. The inflationary costs and the costs for materials and services have been increasing consistently throughout this period. Therefore, the rate increases are needed to operate, maintain, rehabilitate, and/or replace existing aging infrastructure. Additionally, an independent engineering analysis of the City’s sewer collection system and wastewater treatment plant have identified over $135 million of capital improvements needed to address current system deficiencies, replace aging facilities, and improve system reliability.

What are proposed sewer utility rate increases?
The proposed sewer rate increases are presented in the table below.

Sewer Rates Table

How do City’s sewer rates compare with other agencies?
Burlingame’s sewer utility rates for a typical single family home are currently among the lowest in San Mateo County. With the proposed rate increases, sewer bills for a typical single family home with average billed sewer use are projected to continue to remain low compared to other regional agencies. The below graph presents the comparison for a single family residential with 5.5 hcf (100 cubic feet) or 4.1 kgals (1,000 gallons) of monthly winter water use.

Comp table 2
How are sewer utility rates billed?
The City’s sewer utility rates are volumetric rates billed based on water consumption, subject to a minimum charge. The rates presented in the above table are per 1,000 gallons of metered water use and the rates will be billed based on a 3-year average of winter water use from bill between January and April. Single family homes and duplexes are billed based on a 3-year average of winter water use from bills between January and April of the prior 3 years, a period with minimal outdoor irrigation. Commercial and other customers are billed based on metered water consumption each billing period.

What if I am a new customer without historical usage data?
These rates would be levied on a temporary basis until one year of winter water use data was available (from 2 bi-monthly bills between January and April). Sewer utility bills would subsequently be based on the rates shown on the table above.

Table 2
When are the sewer rate increases expected?
As presented in the above table, the proposed rate increases will occur January 1 of each year.

Why sewer utility rate increases now?
An independent engineering analysis has identified several improvements required to the sewer system for sufficient operation and maintenance. The costs of materials and labor are consistently increasing. In addition, increase in inflation has direct impact on increase in capital improvements costs. Therefore, there is cost benefit in timely implementation of the capital improvements.

Can the City defer capital improvements?
Deferring capital improvements typically results in higher costs for operations and maintenance of aging sewer system, higher costs to pay for regulatory violations such as spills and excess discharges, and higher costs for emergency operations and maintenance. Therefore, the city is increasing the sewer utility rates now to reduce the burden of higher rate increases in future. Such planning has resulted in the city not increasing the sewer rates while implementing planned capital improvement projects for the past nine years, keeping the City’s sewer rates lower among the similar cities within the peninsula.

Will the public hearing be held in-person?
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Government Code section 54953, as amended by  AB 361, allows legislative bodies to conduct meetings electronically. Therefore, this public hearing will be held using the above video conference or dial-in information only, and the Council Chambers will be closed during the public hearing.

How can I provide input?
Members of the public are invited to attend the public hearing and provide input on the proposed rates. This public hearing details are as follows:


November 15, 2021


7:00 PM

Video Link:




Meeting ID:

867 8122 4905



How can I submit a written protest?
Protests must be submitted in writing and must: a) identify the affected property or properties, such as by address, Assessor’s Parcel Number, or customer account number, b) include the name and signature of the customer or property owner submitting the protest, and c) indicate opposition to the proposed sewer rates. Written protests can be mailed or delivered to:  Attn: City Clerk, City of Burlingame, 501 Primrose Avenue, Burlingame, CA 94010. One written protest will be counted per parcel. Protests submitted by e-mail, facsimile, or other electronic means are not counted. The proposed rates cannot be adopted if written protests are received from a majority of affected parcels.  All written protests must be submitted prior to the close of the Public Hearing on November 15, 2021. The Public Hearing will be conducted electronically as noted above. However, written protests will be accepted at City Hall up to the close of the Public Hearing. Protests received after the close of the Public Hearing will not be counted.

Additional Information
If you would like additional information on the proposed sewer rates, please contact Public Works Department, Engineering Office at 650-558-7230. 

To view the presentation from the September 7, 2021 City Council Study Session, click here.