As Baldwin County continues to grow, the need for sewer service continues to increase. A survey of single-family residential sewer fees in Baldwin County revealed a wide variation in both tap fees for new construction and monthly usage rates. Apples-to-apples comparisons are difficult, however.

Some sewer system operators charge minimum fees per thousand gallons used, some have standard base or monthly rates and some charge more for single-family residential service outside city limits. Commercial rates often take into account the size of the business and essential questions such as how many people work in the building.

Despite the challenges, it is possible to draw some conclusions. People who live farther away from a population center are probably going to pay more, particularly in tap fees, which are charged to connect a home to an existing sewer line.

In Baldwin County the highest sewer rates seem to be charged by the privately owned Baldwin County Sewer Service. Officials have said that’s because BCSS isn’t eligible for the types of grants and loans that nonprofit municipalities can apply for, so its expenses are higher. Likewise, BCSS is building new lines mostly outside city limits. BCSS is based in Summerdale and serves a large and growing area of Baldwin County including Summerdale, Silverhill, Elberta, Perdido Beach, Spanish Fort and Lillian.

Lagniappe surveyed current rates countywide, using system websites and a survey put together by Richard Peterson, operations superintendent for Fairhope.

Fairhope Utilities — Minimum fee per first 1,000 gallons: $16.77 outside city limits, $13.74 inside city limits. Fixed sewer fee outside city limits: $28.49; fixed inside: $18.39. Minimum tie-in fee: $600 inside city limits, $2,800 outside city limits.

Riviera Utilities — Base rate: $20 per month inside. Fixed rate: $36. Tap fee: $1,500.

Daphne Utilities — Minimum fee per first 1,000 gallons: $22 inside city limits, $27.59 outside city limits. Residential capacity fee: $2,800.

Baldwin County Sewer Service — Monthly charge: $54.50. Tap fee: $3,500.

Gulf Shores — Monthly fee for up to 4,000 gallons: $15, plus 25 percent in Zone 2. Service installation fee: $1,000.

North Baldwin Utilities — Gravity sewer connection fee: $3,450. Pressure sewer connection fee: $1,500. Flat monthly fee: $31 plus $13.50 if using less than 3,000 gallons per month.

Town of Loxley Public Works — Monthly bill: $26.52. Tap fee: $2,500.

Orange Beach — Monthly bill inside city limits: $28. Outside city limits: $42.

Robertsdale — Robertsdale has four different rates depending on whether a customer is or is not connected to city water and whether the customer is inside or outside the city limits. Monthly rates range from $16 to $43.25. Connection fees range from $1,425 to $2,250.