Ronald Wastewater Assumption

City and Ronald Wastewater District unify services in 2017

Background 

When Shoreline residents incorporated the City in 1995 it was in large part to receive better, more efficient services for their tax dollars. One way for the City to provide more efficient services includes unifying some of the water and sewer utilities with City operations, creating one-stop shopping for City residents and businesses. Early City Councils realized that consolidating utility services in Shoreline would reduce inefficiencies associated with multiple governmental entities operating in the same jurisdiction. One of the utilities considered for consolidation was the Ronald Wastewater (sewer) District.

To further the goal of consolidating services, the City and District entered into an Interlocal Operating Agreement in 2002, signed and agreed to by both organizations, to unify sewer services with City operations. The Agreement outlines the unification process between the City and the District which is to occur in October 2017. Unlike the possible purchase of the Seattle Public Utilities’ (SPU) water system in Shoreline, the City will acquire the sewer utility through an assumption, which means all assets, reserve funds, employees, equipment and any District debt will be assumed by the City and the Ronald Wastewater District will cease to exist as a separate government entity. With a few exceptions the ratepayers of the Ronald Wastewater District are Shoreline taxpayers. 

Procedures for an orderly and predictable transition of the sewer utility from District to City ownership are outlined in the 2002 agreement. In order to facilitate a smooth consolidation, the City and District agreed to a 15-year timeframe for the transition. During that time, the District has and will continue to operate as a Special Purpose District in Shoreline under the guidance of a franchise agreement with the City.

In December 2013, the Shoreline City council took the important step of acquiring property that underlies Lift Station No. 13, near the Town of Woodway. The lift station is part of the Ronald Wastewater District system and serves 61 Shoreline homes along with four homes in the Town of Woodway.

A few months later, in early 2014, the City’s consultant, EES Consulting, Inc., began a utility unification and efficiency study to determine efficiency savings associated with unifying specific utilities with City operations. Utilities included in the study were the Ronald Wastewater District, the SPU water system, and the North City Water District. The results of the study showed significant efficiency savings could be achieved with unifications. Depending on the utility or combination of utilities unified, savings could range from approximately $5 million to nearly $70 million.

Utility Unification and Efficiency Study 

Benefits of Unification

Consolidating Ronald Wastewater sewer and SPU water services to operate under the umbrella of the City will allow these utilities and the City to:

  • achieve efficiencies through reduced overhead and streamlined operational costs;
  • provide better customer service through combined utility billing, coordinated information responses, and “one stop” customer service and permitting;
  • provide ratepayers with a more transparent process for rate-setting and decision-making by having a single group of Shoreline-elected officials accountable to Shoreline voters;
  • provide ratepayers with better access to information and channels of communication with a single website and unified customer service operations for both utilities and the City;
  • provide a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to reinvesting in Shoreline infrastructure, aiding in redevelopment of different parts of the City; and
  • provide more financial and human resources to the utility in the event of an emergency.

Boundary Review Boards

On May 27, 2014, the City submitted its Notices of Intent to Assume the Ronald Wastewater District to the King County and Snohomish County Boundary Review Boards (BRBs). The BRBs are responsible for reviewing proposals for boundary changes by cities, fire districts, and water/sewer districts within their respective counties, including city or district annexations, new city incorporations, and district mergers.

For more information about the BRBs, visit their websites: