Information for Water-Sewer Districts
This page, created for the Washington Association of Sewer and Water Districts (WASWD), provides links to MRSC's many resources that are relevant to water-sewer districts.
Have a question? Ask MRSC! WASWD and Enduris member agencies are eligible for our free one-on-one inquiry service. Get an answer quickly from one of our trusted attorneys, policy consultants, or finance experts!
- Title 57 RCW - Water-Sewer Districts
- Statutes Relating to Provision of Domestic Water - MRSC Water Utility Page
- Statutes Relating to Sewerage Systems - MRSC Sewer Utility Page
You can search the MRSC's Sample Document Library for a broad range of local government topics, or visit an individual water-sewer district's website (see our list of water-sewer districts below) to search for examples of policies, resolutions, financial documentation, codes, and more.
For a list of water-sewer districts in Washington, including links to their websites where available, see our page Water and Sewer Districts Listed by County.
Below are examples of water-sewer district rate schedules:
- Cedar River Water and Sewer District Schedule of Charges (2023)
- Clark Regional Wastewater District Rates & Charges
- Juniper Beach Water District Water Rates and Fees
- Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District Master Fees and Charges Schedule (2022)
- Lakehaven Water and Sewer District:
- Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District Water and Sewer Rates
- Silver Lake Water and Sewer District Rates
For general information on utility billing and financial controls, see our pages on:
- Utility Billing Procedures
- Utility Discounts and Financial Assistance Programs
- Internal Controls for Utility Finances
- Utility Charges and Property Transfers
In the event of nonpayment, liens, water shutoffs, and sewer disconnections (caps) can be used. However, the exact options depend on the type of municipality that owns and operates the sewer utility, as well as the type of utility service being provided, and utility customers have certain procedural protections under state and federal law.
For general overviews, see:
To determine whether your district can use a lien, shut off water service, or cap the sewer connection in a specific situation, use our Utility Liens and Shut-Offs Tool, which will guide you through a series of questions.
Title IV of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act, signed in 2002, requires community water systems serving a population of more than 3,300 to complete a vulnerability assessment and prepare or revise emergency response plans that incorporate the results. For guidance, see the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publication Emergency Response Plan Guidance for Small and Medium Community Water Systems.
The EPA also provides extensive information on Emergency Response for Drinking Water and Wastewater Utilities to help water and wastewater utilities prepare for and react to emergencies. This includes information on planning, training, and crisis communications, as well as emergency response checklists.
The Washington Department of Health page on Emergency Response and Security provides additional publications and a water security checklist to help water providers secure their water supply, as well as emergency phone contacts in case an emergency occurs.
The Washington Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (WAWARN) allows public and private water and wastewater utilities to directly assist one another during an emergency. Before using this service, utilities must complete a membership application and submit a mutual aid agreement. During an emergency, WAWARN members may request equipment and personnel from other member agencies.
Below are selected pages that discuss other topics specific to water and sewer services.
- Latecomer Agreements – Discusses what they are and are not, includes Q&A and sample code provisions
- Local Improvement Districts – Web version of Washington State Local Improvement District Manual with sample documents
- Sewer Utilities – Covers a wide range of sewer topics, including statutes, side sewers, biosolids, FOG control, and other issues
- Water Resources and Water Quality – Provides links to programs on water resources, water quality, clean water and information resources
- Water Rights – Information about water rights in Washington state
- Water Utilities – Overview of statutes relating to provision of domestic water, utility administration, finance, water rates, and water system planning
MRSC has two publications that may be of particular interest to water-sewer commissioners (or prospective commissioners):
- Getting Into Office – Discusses the qualifications and processes required to seek office
- Knowing the Territory – Describes the nature, powers, and duties of municipal officials for "keeping out of trouble," including discussions of open government, conflicts of interest, and other laws.
For a good overview of a commissioner's roles and responsibilities, see:
All water-sewer commissioners must complete training for the Open Public Meetings Act and the Public Records Act within 90 days of taking the oath of office or assuming duties (see below).
The appearance of fairness doctrine requires all quasi-judicial actions taken by the board (which impact individual property owners and are distinct from policymaking or legislation) to be fair and unbiased in fact and appearance. For water-sewer districts, this might include judgments such as property owners appealing the general manager's decisions or requesting variances requiring board approval. For more information, see our page on the Appearance of Fairness Doctrine.
Some districts have adopted their own codes of ethics, so make sure you know what your local policies are.
Water-sewer districts adopt rules governing the transaction of their business by resolution. For information on drafting and adopting resolutions, download our Local Ordinances publication. While this document focuses on ordinances for cities and counties, the contents are still useful for water-sewer district resolutions.
Below are some water-sewer districts that provide their codes or resolutions online:
- Alderwood Water and Wastewater District Code (includes tables for water resolutions and sewer resolutions)
- Birch Bay Water and Sewer District:
- Clark Regional Wastewater District Code
- Covington Water District Code
- Highline Water District Resolutions
- King County Water District No. 125 Resolutions
- Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District Code
- Midway Sewer District Resolutions
- Woodinville Water District Code
The Washington Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) requires that all meetings of governing bodies of public agencies, including water-sewer districts, be open to the public.
The OPMA contains specific provisions regarding regular and special meetings, executive sessions, the types of notice that must be given for meetings, the conduct of meetings, and the penalties and remedies for violations.
All water-sewer commissioners must complete OPMA training within 90 days of taking the oath of office or assuming duties. A refresher OPMA training is also required every four years.
The Public Records Act (PRA) requires that all public records maintained by state and local agencies, including water-sewer districts, be made available to all members of the public, with very narrow statutory exemptions.
All water-sewer commissioners and public records officers must complete PRA training within 90 days of taking the oath of office or assuming duties. A refresher PRA training is also required every four years.
Effective financial policies are essential to a local government’s fiscal health. They provide stability and continuity over the years as staff and elected officials turn over by establishing what actions are acceptable and unacceptable, identifying who is responsible for taking certain actions, and providing standards to measure your jurisdiction’s performance.
They will also be used during state audits to assess compliance, by credit ratings agencies to help determine your jurisdiction’s fiscal stability, and by other financial professionals as a basis for providing services.
For help crafting your financial policies and procedures, see our Financial Policies Tool Kit, which provides detailed guidance and key questions to consider for a number of financial topics, as well as links to best practices and sample documents from other jurisdictions.
For general information about public works contracting, purchases, and service contracts, see our extensive series on Purchasing and Contracting.
For a good example of a water-sewer procurement policy, see:
To see your specific statutory bid limits and competitive bidding requirements for any kind of project, use our Find Your Contracting Requirements tool. Select your project type, then select “water-sewer district.” Note: This tool only shows your statutory requirements. Your district may have adopted its own, more stringent policies, so always consult your local policies and legal counsel.
Rosters and Vendor Lists
Water-sewer districts are authorized to use a small works roster process for public works contracts with an estimated cost of $350,000 or less (see RCW 57.08.050(2) and RCW 39.04.155). For more information, see our page on Small Public Works Rosters or download our Small Works Roster publication.
MRSC provides its own roster service for local governments across Washington, connecting hundreds of local governments – including many water-sewer districts – to thousands of businesses for public works, consulting services, and purchases. To sign up or learn more, visit MRSC Rosters.
Unit-Priced Public Works Contracts
Water-sewer districts are authorized to use unit priced ("on call") public works contracts. A unit priced contract means a competitively bid contract in which public works are anticipated on a recurring basis, under which the contractor agrees to a fixed period indefinite quantity delivery or work, at a defined unit price, for each category of work. For more information, see our page on Unit Priced (On Call) Public Works Contracts.
RCW 39.34.040 provides an alternative to filing an interlocal agreement with the county auditor; a public agency may list the agreement on its website or other electronically retrievable public source. For more information, see our page on Intergovernmental Cooperation in Public Works.
Below are examples of water-sewer districts that post interlocal agreements online:
- Alderwood Water and Wastewater District:
- Clark Regional Wastewater District: Agreements
- Cross Valley Water District: Interlocal Agreements
- Silver Lake Water and Sewer District: Interlocal Agreements
Cybersecurity is critical for water-sewer districts and other utility providers, which must protect vital infrastructure in addition to customer billing information, personal employee information, and important internal documents. For a list of helpful resources, see our Cybersecurity Resources for Local Governments.