(Lander, Wyo.) – Water and sewer rate changes, which likely will result in increased bills for many City of Lander residents, passed the Lander City Council unanimously this evening.

No Lander residents were present to speak to the issue. One Fort Washakie man, Rodolfo Ramirez, asked the council to consider a plan that would allow residents to recycle grey water from sinks and dishwashers, which he said would ultimately result in a saving to customers’ sewer bills. Mayor Mick Wolfe asked for details of his ideas to be left at city hall and shown to the city’s engineers.

The new rates will go into effect on Dec. 31, with the first affected bill to arrive in customers’ mail boxes in February.

The water rates include a base charge of $33.62 for residential customers for the first 4,000 gallons with charges for each 1,000 gallons used after. The rates will adjust over the next three years, with the base charge decreasing and the unit charge eventually leveling out.

Residential customers will be charged for sewer based on the average of water usage in November through January, when most water is returned to the sewer system. Treasurer Charri Lara said in a previous meeting that for most customers this would be in the $15-20 range per month. Currently, the sewer flat rate is less than $11. The base charge for 2,000 gallons of sewer for small commercial customers will be $12.17. For every thousand gallons after that, the charge is $1.72. The base rates increase as the size of of the meter increases. The city is encouraging commercial customers who do a lot of watering or irrigating to get a separate meter so they aren’t charge for water going into the sewer system.

For the complete details on the changes, see the ordinance and resolution passed by the council Tuesday evening on the city’s website.

“Just whatever you use, you pay for. Just like electricity and gas,” Wolfe said in summary.

The reason for the changes are a host of wastewater system upgrades being pushed for by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality. The matter was discussed in detail at a public hearing in mid-November with a crowd of about 40.

In the last three meetings, which were required to pass the ordinance, there was a lack of public involvement, Councilor Cade Maestas noted. He said he hoped that when customers see their new bill they do not complain too much to city staff because they declined to be part of the process.

“I think in general people will be very pleased, initially,” Council President Nancy Webber said, noting that winter bills won’t be where the impact will be felt initially.