Facing a $68,000 shortfall by the end of this year, the Brush Creek Sewer District is raising its customer rates, beginning next month.

The sewer district, owned by Franklin County, recently received notice from the U.S. Department of Agriculture approving the rate hikes.

County officials have been discussing rate increases for some time, especially after entering into a contract with Public Water District No. 3 for operations and maintenance of the sewer district.

The county previously attempted to sell the sewer district, both to the city of Pacific and later to the water district, but could not do so because of jurisdictional and rate disagreements between the two other entities.

The rates are being adjusted to cover the district’s obligations of operational costs, maintenance costs, reserves, principal and interest and debt payments.

The district was constructed using $3.7 million in loans and grants from the USDA.

Currently customers in the district pay a flat rate of $35 a month.

Under the new rate structure, customers will pay $31.50, plus an additional charge of $2.66 per 1,000 gallons of treated sewage.

The treatment amount will be based on each customer’s winter water usage.

Officials with Alliance Water, the company which operates PWSD No. 3, said basing rates on winter usage assures that customers aren’t charged for water that is used for things like irrigation, washing cars and filling swimming pools during the summer months.

The company estimated the typical Brush Creek customer uses 4,400 gallons of water a month that is returned to the sewer system for treatment.

That means a typical customer’s bill will increase from $35 a month to $43.20.

The rate structure will be uniformly used for residential, business and commercial customers within the sewer district.

The majority of sewer district customers, who also are customers of PWSD No. 3, will continue to have their sewer billing included in their water bills.

Customers with questions are asked to call the water district office at 636-742-5200.