In the most recent billing cycle, some Ferndale utility bills were printed with the “Late Notice” language from June 30th. We regret this error.
These bills are the regular notice for the Dec. 31st billing cycle. We have verified that all the rest of the information on the bill is correct, and per Governor Inslee’s order, there are no late fees or shutoffs through April 30th, 2021.
Utility Shutoffs Suspended Due to Governor’s Action
In July, the City announced that they were providing increased flexibility for utility customers as shutoffs resumed for the June 30th billing cycle (set to take place on August 19th). Yesterday, Governor Inslee extended a moratorium on utility shutoffs. The City will comply with the Governor’s order and will not proceed with utility shutoffs for the June 30th cycle.
The City strongly encourages utility customers to pay all or some of their utility bill to avoid accumulating a large balance. For utility customers impacted by the pandemic in need of assistance, the Ferndale Community Service Cooperative has established a fund to help with utility bills. For more information on this program, visit their website here: http://ferndalecsc.org/.
Traditionally, customers with an unpaid balance of over $100 were subject to utility shutoffs however in light of the possible accumulated bills over the last four months, the City is increasing that threshold to $300 for the June 30th bill.
Shutoffs are scheduled for the second week of August and utility customers are strongly encouraged to pay their bill in full, or failing that, reduce the balance to under $300 to avoid a disruption in service. Late fees and shut off fees will continue to be suspended during this time.
For utility customers impacted by the pandemic in need of assistance, the Ferndale Community Resource Center has established a fund to with utility bills. For more information on this program, visit their website here: http://ferndalecsc.org/.
Usually this week is when our team would be out doing utility shutoffs due to nonpayment. However, in light of COVID-19, we have suspended late payments and shutoffs for the Feb. 28th and April 30th bills. Making a payment today, even a partial payment, can ensure that the bill does not become unmanageable as we gradually return to normal operations.
If you need financial assistance with your utility bill, the Ferndale Community Service Cooperative has set up a fund to help residents. More details are available here: http://ferndalecsc.org/
In the coming weeks, the new City Well will begin supplying groundwater to the Ferndale water system. This well, drilled in 2017, taps a fresh aquifer located over a 1,000 feet below the surface and will provide approximately a quarter of the City’s water supply.
The new well is completed in a separate aquifer than the current supply and will result in some changes to the taste of City water. There are many factors that influence the flavor of City water, not the least of which is your own personal preferences. No matter the taste, the City will ensure the water is safe and reliable.
The City is currently designing the expansion the Water Treatment Plant which is scheduled to be completed in 2021. When that project is completed, the well will provide a larger percentage of the City’s water.
“As we enter the summer months, I am thrilled to see this vital resource come online for the City,” said Mayor Greg Hansen. “That said, water is still a precious resource and we need everyone to practice good conservation this summer.”
The City is gearing up to activate a new well and integrate that water into our water supply. In the next couple of weeks, the City will share more information about what that means for our community. In the meantime, here’s a video the City released last year that provides some background about the new well and water treatment plant.
The city regrets to inform the public that there was a calculation error in the last billing cycle (Feb. 28th) that affected approximately 2,500 residential customers. It did not apply the correct average to the sewer charge which resulted in some bills being higher and some bills being lower in the Feb. 28th billing cycle. To fix that, this cycle’s bill includes an adjustment, either a credit or an additional charge, to fix that mistake.
But the bigger mistake was not including an explanation in the bills of this adjustment. That is on us, the City, and we apologize. The last couple of months have been hectic but that is no excuse, the public deserves the best from their local government and again, we apologize for not communicating about this adjustment.
Beyond that, bills are slightly higher than last year. The City conducted a rate study all last year to rebalance our utility bills and secure funding for our needed utility projects (the new deep well head and expanding the wastewater and water treatment plants). More information about that process is available here. As a result, the average household bill increased by approximately $30 per cycle. If a customer uses more than the average household’s worth of water, it may have been a higher increase.
It is worth remembering that with so many residents staying home this last cycle, usage may be up slightly.
That said, obviously, if residents have questions about their specific bill or think we made an error, please don’t hesitate to call our utility clerk, Jeanna, at 360-384-4269 or email@example.com. We can take a look at your specific case and see if it all adds up.
Finally, we understand that this is a difficult time with so many Ferndale residents being unable to work due to COVID-19. As a result, we have suspended shutoffs and late fees for the Feb and April billing cycles. We encourage folks who have not been impacted to continue to keep up with their bill but for those who have, please take the time needed.
The City of Ferndale updates the Stormwater Management Plan as a response to specific special conditions within the “Western Washington Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit” that authorizes the City of Ferndale to discharge stormwater to the waters of the State of Washington.
Per the Permit, this program summary will be updated each year and will be available to the public. Participation and comments are welcome and may be directed to City of Ferndale Stormwater staff firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment period begins March 1st, 2020 and ends March 31, 2020.
Public Works crews are set to smoke test sanitary sewer lines this week in the neighborhoods identified above.
These tests help the City identify how and where water (and other material) enters and leaves our sewer system, allowing us to locate defective connections and spots in need of repairs.
During smoke testing, field crews blow air and smoke into the sewer system from the street and then monitor where it comes out. The smoke under pressure will fill the main line as well as any connections and then follow the path of any leak to the ground surface, quickly revealing the source of the problem.
For instance, if smoke permeates up through a yard, it indicates breaks in the sewer line. The smoke is gently pushed to overcome atmospheric pressure and should escape from building roof vents.
The smoke itself is actually not smoke, but a non-toxic, non-staining odorless vapor.
Smoke testing is a harmless, cost-effective way to identify areas of our sewer system that need improvement.
Below are some common questions and answers about this testing, if you have any further questions, please call the Public Works Department at (360) 384-4006.