Topic: Water Rates

Overview

Water Rates

Typically, water utilities’ budgets are funded by revenue collected through water and sewer rates. Revenue generated by rates covers the costs of operations, as well as ongoing upgrades and repairs to pipelines, treatment plants, sewers and other water infrastructure.

State legislation also has affected the water rate-setting process by requiring new processes for altering water rates, as well as by requiring water conservation, which in turn decreases the demand for water.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Dirty water too pricey to fix for many Central Valley cities. Is this idea the answer?

Cities like Huron, with a population of 6,926 and a $22,802 median household income, are often too small to expand water access projects that could lower utility rates. While cities like Delano are too big to qualify for rural development projects from the federal government. But a new proposal could soon alleviate those pains.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Californians are turning to vending machines for safer water. Are they being swindled?

The kiosks take city tap water – which must be clean enough to meet state and federal quality standards – run it through a filtration system that removes chemicals such as chlorine to improve taste, then dispense it to customers at an 8,000% to 10,000% mark-up. Vended water is cheaper than individually sealed, store-bought bottles, but many times more expensive than tap water.

Aquafornia news Del Mar Times

Santa Fe Irrigation District proposes raising rates by 9 percent over three years

The Santa Fe Irrigation District is moving forward with a proposed three-year rate plan that would raise total revenue for the district by 3 percent per year over the next three years, beginning early next year, through rate increases and changes in the district’s rate structure.

Aquafornia news Oroville Mercury-Register

Opinion: Delay of water feasibility study disappointing

You might ask why anyone would want to study whether water could be piped from Paradise to Chico. It’s actually pretty simple.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Groundwater plan’s potential adverse impact on ag

When the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority technical and policy advisory committees reviewed a draft sustainability plan, it left many with questions and criticisms. The plan may also leave uncertainty for the valley’s agricultural industry. They face the brunt of the plan’s water sustainability requirements when the plan is implemented…

Aquafornia news Voice of Orange County

Newport Beach set to consider water rate hike

Water rates have not increased in Newport Beach since 2014. If approved, starting Jan. 1, water rates will increase 7.4% each year until 2024. After 2024, the proposal calls for water rates to rise by 2.5% each year until 2029. The average household … can expect a $3.38 per month increase in its water bill for the first year, according to a staff report.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Opinion: Now that a public buyout of Cal Am has been declared feasible, is it doable?

According to a 111-page analysis by a group of financial consultants and bankers released on Nov. 6, not only is a buyout of the behemoth Cal Am feasible, it would also cause the cost of water to drop significantly if the water utility was replaced by a public agency.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Consultant: Cal Am purchase can be paid for with rate savings

It will cost Monterey Peninsula ratepayers about $574.5 million, all in, to acquire California American Water’s local water system, but that cost can be covered in rate savings under public ownership with some leftover to lower local customers’ water bills.

Related article:

Aquafornia news KAZU

Public takeover of Cal Am appears feasible

A newly released study finds a public takeover of California American Water’s local system is feasible. Voters ordered this study with the approval of a local ballot measure, Measure J, one year ago. The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District released the study Wednesday.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Cal Am Water customers in Ventura County are getting bill credits

About 27,000 California American Water customers in Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park and Camarillo are getting credits on their October and November bills averaging $41.27 a month, the company says. The credits are being issued because the rate hikes the California Public Utilities Commission approved for the company earlier this year were less than what the company anticipated…

Aquafornia news The Mountain Democrat

El Dorado Irrigation District fights water taxes

The Oct. 28 meeting of the El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors included an update on the effect of power outages on the district and a legislative update with a focus on protecting the area’s water rights.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

San Diego creates state’s first water, sewer ‘capacity bank’ to boost biotech, breweries

The city will buy millions of gallons of “stranded,” excess water and sewer capacity from manufacturing businesses that those businesses had purchased when they hooked up to the city’s water and sewer system over the years. … Then the city will place that excess capacity in a “bank” and sell it at discounted rates to biotech firms, breweries and other water-dependent businesses looking to expand or open new local facilities.

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

New laws may result in water rate increases

In order to keep up with the state’s underground water recharge laws, sooner or later, local water rates will likely need to increase. That was the message local water management officials gave in a joint presentation at the Oct. 21 Selma City Council.

Aquafornia news Deseret News

Bureau of Reclamation takes up review of Lake Powell Pipeline

The elimination of the major hydropower components of the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline means a new federal agency will review the project and determine if it is environmentally sound to move forward.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Livermore Independent

Zone 7 settles on minor boost to ag water price

Zone 7 Water Agency directors have voted 5-2 to raise the price of agricultural water by 3%, a relatively minor hike that one vineyard owner said is affordable. … The 3% bump was in stark contrast to the 30% cost for 2020 recommended by staff, which referred to a study by consultant Raftelis about actual costs incurred by Zone 7.

Aquafornia news Victorville Daily Press

Public will have voice in new utility, town lawyer says

Exorbitant water bills, earthquake-prone reservoir tanks, a lack of public input in setting rates and a corporation from Canada not operating transparently. These were just some of the reasons that justify Apple Valley taking over its largest supplier of water, Liberty Utilities, a lawyer for the town argued on Thursday.

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara Independent

Montecito thirsting for new water source

After years of negotiations, the Montecito Water District is closing in on a deal to buy 1,430 acre-feet of water from the City of Santa Barbara, every year for the next 50 years. … The city would produce the extra supply at its $72 million desalination plant, at a yearly cost to Montecito of $4.3 million.

Aquafornia news Salinas Californian

Central Coast plan to shift water to wealthier areas meets protest

Activists and local government officials across Monterey County have banded together to fight a proposed desalination plant that could double the cost of water for some residents and endanger an aquifer that serves low-income communities.

Aquafornia news Axios

The water crisis U.S. cities don’t see coming

Aging water treatment systems, failing pipes and a slew of unregulated contaminants threaten to undermine water quality in U.S. cities of all sizes. … Still, with only a handful of exceptions, “water systems aren’t designed to focus on health, they’re focused on cost-containment,” says Seth Siegel, whose book “Troubled Water,” released this month, examines the precarious state of water infrastructure in the U.S.

Aquafornia news Camarillo Acorn

Big-ticket infrastructure costs pump up rates

Sewer rates are scheduled to go up in January for Camarillo Sanitary District customers, who already pay some of the highest wastewater rates in the county.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Alameda storm drain fee could more than double

Alameda property owners are being asked whether they are willing to pay more to maintain and upgrade the city’s aging stormwater system. … The reason? The city’s stormwater fund is running a $1 million annual deficit and the system needs about $30 million in upgrades, including at its pipe stations, some of which date to the 1940s…

Aquafornia news Daily Pilot

Mesa Water tweaks pipe replacement policy, cutting estimated cost

The Mesa Water District board took a step Thursday to reduce the estimated cost of replacing its pipeline system. With newly adopted methodology, district staff estimates the 100-year replacement cost at $131 million — down from $200 million under the former standards.

Aquafornia news San Bernardino Sun

Audits of embattled Rialto water district uncover financial, personnel issues

State and local audits of the embattled West Valley Water District in Rialto have uncovered a slew of deficiencies, including questionable hiring and promotion practices, no-bid contracts, abuse of credit cards and work performed without contracts.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Court ruling pauses Cal Am desal plant project

A Monterey County Superior Court judge has called a halt to work on the California American Water desalination plant project, at least temporarily, while a California Coastal Commission appeal challenging the project’s source wells is pending.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

As cost of delivering water climbs, Tustin looks at raising household rates

For the first time in five years, Tustin is looking at passing along those increases to consumers through a rise in rates. Early next year, the City Council will vote on a multi-year, incremental rate hike. If council members approve the staff proposal, rates almost immediately will increase 6% per year for five years.

Aquafornia news MyValleyNews.com

Riverside judge dismisses challenge to WMWD water rate structure; a victory for customers who use water efficiently

Western Municipal Water District, which provides water to Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District and Rancho California Water District in southwest Riverside County, won a court challenge from two excessive water users to share their higher costs with those who efficiently conserve their water usage and save on their water bills.

Aquafornia news KSBY

Santa Maria residents could see water and sewer increases for the next 4 years

The proposed water rates include a fixed meter charge per month and a variable consumption charge per unit of water. The city says most single family residences will see about a $15 increase in January of 2020. … The last rate increase was approved by the city council five years ago, but he says a lot has changed since then.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

IWVGA board talks future administrative structure

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority rolled out concepts for an administrative structure that could eventually cement the new agency as an independent entity — should money ever be found to fund them.

Aquafornia news Del Mar Times

Santa Fe Irrigation selects multi-tiered structure for water rate increases

The Santa Fe Irrigation District board recommended moving forward with a new five-tier rate structure for its proposed three percent water rate increase. The board is expected to make a final decision on the rates by January 2020 to ensure the financial stability of the district and meet its objectives of equity across customer classes and encouraging conservation.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Who runs your water system? UC Davis research shows why water governance matters

A new article on UC Davis’s California Water Blog shines a light on just how complicated water governance can be and why it matters… For more, listen to this interview with Kristin Dobbin, one of the article’s co-authors and a UC Davis Ph.D. student studying regional water management and drinking water disparities in California.

Aquafornia news Tri County Sentry

Higher groundwater pumping fees are coming to Oxnard

The Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency … discussed reasons why the area will reduce pumping in the future to meet its sustainability goals as it moves toward 2040. Cities can expect considerable pumping fee increases per acre-feet of water and can have far-reaching effects on the local economy.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

DWP, reeling from scandals and FBI raids, gets a new watchdog office

Months after federal investigators raided the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Mayor Eric Garcetti on Thursday announced the creation of an inspector general’s office at the utility.

Aquafornia news The Record Gazette

Water meters in Banning are getting smarter

The city council approved paying Zenner USA … $1.6 million to purchase automatic metering infrastructure, water meters, communications equipment and software and hardware at its Aug. 27 meeting. The meters themselves will be made in Banning. … The city is in the process of converting from manual meter reading to relying instead on automatic meter reading…

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

A city auditor was investigating DWP contracts. She says she was warned not to be ‘thorough’

As a high-level government auditor, Beth Kennedy has investigated or reviewed the spending of many city of Los Angeles departments without serious incident, she says. But now, Kennedy … is alleging she was warned not to delve too deeply into controversial contracts awarded by the Department of Water of Power, according to a legal claim she filed against the city last month.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

County sales tax for water projects is extended indefinitely

A quarter-cent sales tax raising $100 million annually for water and wastewater projects will remain in place indefinitely following a decision Tuesday by the Clark County Commission. … The 6-1 vote removes a sunset clause that would have made the tax expire in 2025.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Two small agencies want a divorce from the San Diego County Water Authority. It could get messy

While there’s no court action yet, the Water Authority is gearing up for what in the water world amounts to a rare change in relationship status. After decades buying water from the Water Authority, Rainbow and Fallbrook want a divorce.

Aquafornia news Glendale News-Press

Many Foothills residents will have higher water bills in September

Roughly 33,000 residents of foothill communities will see an increase in their water bills beginning Sept. 1, when a pair of recently approved rate hikes are set to go into effect. On Tuesday, Crescenta Valley Water District board members voted 4-1 to go forward with a 7% increase in water rates and a 4% hike in sewer rates.

Aquafornia news Torrance Daily Breeze

Hawthorne residents prepare for 40% water rate increase over 3 years

The City Council agreed to allow rate increases for California Water Service customers of roughly 13 percent each of the next three years. … For the average family paying $71.43 per month on a water bill, the cost would increase by $9.31 the first year, $9.25 the second year and $10.35 the third year, based on a projection by Cal Water officials.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Public water buyout plan reviewed by water board

It could take two more years before the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District is ready to consider a resolution of necessity to go ahead with eminent domain proceedings aimed at a forced acquisition of California American Water’s local water system.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Plan for public buyout of local Cal Am water system set for Monterey water board review

Released on Friday, the 15-page plan authored by water district general manager Dave Stoldt outlines a recommended approach to meet the district’s formal policy of pursuing public control of all “water production, storage and delivery assets and infrastructure,” as established by voter-approved Measure J.

Aquafornia news Santa Monica Daily Press

Water costs divide City Council

The City Council is split on how much to raise water rates over the next five years to fund projects that will wean Santa Monica off of imported water. … Bi-monthly water and wastewater bills for single-family homes would increase by $23 on average under the lower rate structure and $36 under the higher rate structure.

Aquafornia news KCRA TV

Could this be a ‘golden goose’ for Yuba County?

For five decades, PG&E paid for and operated the Colgate Powerhouse in exchange for the revenue generated by the hydroelectric generation. But now, instead of tens of millions of dollars flowing out to the utility, that agreement has expired and the revenue, potentially as much as $30 million per year, is flowing back into the Yuba Water Agency.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Will free markets clean up California’s dirty water?

There’s no law of nature nor of economics that says water must be delivered by a government agency. Yet in California, nearly every drop of flowing water is under the boot of a public authority — local boards, state authorities and federal regulators.

Aquafornia news Rancho Santa Fe Review

Santa Fe Irrigation District weighs options for water rate structures

Last December, the board voted not to adopt a proposal to raise rates by an average of 3 percent over the three years, sending the district back to work with its consultants to come up with a different plan that would be best for ratepayers.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Sacramento County warns of phone scam posing as water agency

The Sacramento County Water Agency says customers have alerted the agency to the scheme, in which the caller claims county officials will shut off their water within 30 minutes if they don’t make a payment, the county Department of Water Resources said Tuesday in a news release.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Feasibility study on Cal Am buyout delayed, written plan on track

A feasibility analysis of a potential public buyout of California American Water’s local water system will be delayed a few months. But the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District will go ahead with a required written public ownership plan…

Aquafornia news Pasadena Star-News

Opinion: Clean drinking water is a social justice crisis and AB792 is the wrong way forward

For years, bottled water has served as one of the only dependable options for consumption and sanitary needs, serving as a simple way for communities to access affordable and available water. Yet, a proposed bill in the California state legislature, Assembly Bill 792, has the potential to impose a de facto tax on bottled water, leading to significant jump in cost, and making it unaffordable for many disadvantaged families.

Aquafornia news Long Beach Press Telegram

Central Basin Water District is now charging even noncustomers in Southeast L.A. County

Kevin Hunt, general manager for Central Basin Municipal Water District, said his agency needs the $600,000-plus the fee will raise to balance its $10 million budget. The water wholesaler has significant money problems because of decreasing water sales.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Cal Am seeks three-year rate increase starting in 2021

California American Water is seeking to raise its Monterey area average customers’ bills by nearly 18 percent over a three-year period from 2021-2023. … Under the proposal, the “average” Cal Am customer would see their monthly rates increase from about $89.40 to $105.42 over the three-year period.

Aquafornia news Noozhawk

Montecito pursues project funding for groundwater basin management plan

The Groundwater Sustainability Agency board will submit a sustainability plan to the Department of Water Resources in 2021 and begin to implement that plan in 2022-2024. The board last week heard a presentation about funding options to pay for the groundwater management plan — including fees, taxes or assessments to customers — and specific projects to implement the plan…

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Interlake Tunnel, dam repairs cost now nearly $190 million

It will cost about $189.5 million to complete the proposed Interlake Tunnel project and the state-required Lake San Antonio dam repairs, according to a county Water Resources Agency report to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday. And $162.5 million of that will have to be paid for by Salinas Valley property owners through a special assessment as early as spring next year.

Aquafornia news Palo Alto Daily Post

Sewer agency chief got $875,000 in severance

The sewage processing agency that serves Menlo Park, San Carlos, Belmont and Redwood City paid its former general manager $875,000 as part of a severance agreement, according to documents obtained by the Post. However, the circumstances behind the departure of Daniel Child are about as murky as the effluent that flows into the agency’s plant…

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego aims to bolster biotech, breweries with new water proposals

San Diego plans to boost the city’s already thriving biotech and craft beer industries by reducing their costs for sewer and water service, which are typically high because those businesses are water-dependent.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Overcharged DWP customers could get an additional $50 million in refunds, new lawyers say

In a legal filing made Thursday, attorneys Brian Kabateck, Anastasia Mazzella and Brian Hong argued that key areas that had been previously overlooked could yield more than $50 million in additional refunds for customers — and that ratepayers are probably owed even more because of other omissions.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

San Jose Water Co. reaches tentative settlement in over-billing investigation

Months after allegations the company over charged people for decades, San Jose Water has reached a tentative settlement agreement to refund customers nearly $2 million. … The refunds would be issued as credits for customers depending on their current service charges. According to the agreement, refunds for low-income customers who get a discount on their water bills would be increased to $25.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

L.A. Mayor Garcetti pushes out top DWP executive after FBI raids

Garcetti’s announcement came as activists called for more forceful action at the DWP, which has been reeling from a scandal over the city’s response to a disastrous rollout of customer billing software at the utility.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

FBI raids at DWP, L.A. City Hall related to fallout from billing debacle

FBI agents fanned across the Los Angeles area on Monday, serving search warrants at multiple government offices, including the Department of Water and Power, as part of an investigation into how the city responded to the disastrous rollout of a new customer billing system.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

District raises water and sewer rates, despite protests

After objections from the public and lengthy discussions, Ramona Municipal Water District Board of Directors approved four types of rate increases recommended by staff. … Water rates have not been adjusted for three years.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Opinion: All Californians should have safe, clean water. But How?

When Gov. Gavin Newsom called for constructing and maintaining delivery systems to get water to at-risk communities in his State of the State address, he received widespread support. But the fight over funding for the project got divisive – and fast.

Aquafornia news Noozhawk

Montecito water rate study on desal deal with Santa Barbara gets delayed

A long-awaited Montecito Water District rate study, planned for release this May, will not be finished until later this year, officials said this week. The study can’t proceed until the district finishes negotiating the terms of an agreement for buying into Santa Barbara’s desalination plant.

Aquafornia news Pasadena Star-News

Montebello to unload its water system for nearly $18 million

The Montebello City Council agreed Wednesday to sell the city’s tiny water system to San Gabriel Valley Water Co. for about $17.8 million, four years after its voters rejected the idea.

Aquafornia news The Planning Report

Blog: MWD’s new chair, Gloria Gray, prioritizes reliability of supply & affordability

Industry veteran Gloria Gray took the helm at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. In this interview, Gray shares how she plans to steer the largest water supplier in the nation through changing political priorities and climate conditions to continue safeguarding the future of California’s water.

Aquafornia news Yahoo Finance

California American Water applies for new revenue to fund infrastructure and service improvements

The increase … amounts to an approximately 10.6 percent increase in revenue for the company. … The request for the increase will assist in funding system and infrastructure improvements to help maintain high-quality water service. The increase will renew and replace water treatment facilities, pumps and pipelines.

Aquafornia news Valley Roadrunner

Opinion: In a few years California will begin to implement indoor water restrictions

Enjoy the days of long, endless hot showers while you may. … Eventually all households will be required to stay within a 55 gallon per day per resident indoor water usage for showers, baths, laundry and dishwashing.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Foothills communities face proposed 7% water rate hike

Crescenta Valley Water District’s board of directors have proposed rate increases for both its water and sewer rates. If approved, customers could see their combined monthly bills increase by about $7.

Aquafornia news KGET TV

Huerta, local leaders urge lawmakers to support clean drinking water fund to be paid for through tax

Community activist Dolores Huerta joined local leaders in East Bakersfield to urge elected leaders Tuesday to vote in favor of legislation they say will ensure safe drinking water for communities in the valley. Specifically, Huerta urged the legislature to support what’s being termed the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. It would be financed by the tax payers, estimated to be a one dollar per month tax increase on every water bill in California.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Calaveras Enterprise

Calaveras Public Utility District ratepayers face 40% increase; district prioritizing infrastructure upgrades

The proposal is to increase both base and usage rates by approximately 40% in the first year, and by about 70% of the current rate by July of 2023. … The last set of rate increases ended in 2016, yet system costs have been increasing each year due to inflation and maintenance expenses associated with an aging system…

Related article:

Aquafornia news Sonoma County Gazette

Sonoma County approves plan to offset groundwater fees in the Santa Rosa Plain

On Tuesday, May 21, the Board of Directors of the Sonoma County Water Agencyand the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved a plan to offset a fee that is likely to be imposed on groundwater users in the Santa Rosa Plain… Under the plan, the County and Sonoma Water would contribute up to $240,000 annually for three years to the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Huntington Beach water rates to increase for 5 years, despite protests from residents

The Huntington Beach City Council on Monday voted to increase local water rates for the next five years, despite receiving 691 protest letters from residents. Under the plan taking effect July 1, most single-family households will pay $53.03 a month — 70 cents more than now — in the first year of five annual rate increases.

Aquafornia news Noozhawk

Santa Barbara Water Commission discusses proposed surcharge for “high strength” wastewater

As the city considers changes to its wastewater rates, its consultant, Nebraska-based HDR Engineering Inc., suggests users that send “high strength” wastewater to the city’s treatment system pay more because of the additional treatment costs. Domestic septic tank/portable restroom discharges, industrial laundry services and alcohol beverage manufacturers such as breweries, wineries and distilleries could be affected…

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Moulton Niguel Water District agrees to pay $4.8 million in wastewater dispute

The Moulton Niguel Water District has agreed to pay $4.8 million to settle a 3-year dispute with South Orange County Wastewater Authority, which processes a portion of the district’s wastewater, according to a settlement agreement released Monday. … Moulton Niguel stopped paying capital improvement invoices for the plant in 2016, saying it would sign past-due checks only as part of a process to terminate its contract to use the plant.

Aquafornia news KSBY

Atascadero moving forward with 19% wastewater rate increase plan

Atascadero residents will likely be paying more for wastewater services starting in just a few months. The last time wastewater rates were increased in Atascadero, President Bill Clinton began began his first term in office and Seinfeld was one of the most watched shows on television.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Valley Water’s farm subsidy to remain, for now

Like everyone else in Santa Clara Valley who uses wells, farmers will see their groundwater production charges go up 6.8 percent this year. But unlike the others, they’ll continue to receive substantial subsidies. In approving the increased charges for well users, the Santa Clara Valley Water District board left intact for at least two years the current structure that allows farmers to pay only 6 percent of the amount residents and businesses pay.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: One less tax: California lawmakers move to reject Gavin Newsom’s water fee

A Senate budget subcommittee rejected Gov. Gavin Newsom’s water tax plan on Wednesday, instead recommending finding $150 million elsewhere to finance a safe and affordable drinking water fund. … The subcommittee’s decision to lock in funds for future budget cycles could eliminate the challenge of securing votes to pass another tax.

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

South Tahoe Public Utility District to hold hearing on proposed rate increases

The district is considering a five-year series of rates increases — up to 5% per year for sewer and up to 6% per year for water. … As district staff have explained during public meetings, much of STPUD’s infrastructure is outdated and in need of repair or replacement. Additionally, more than 10% of the STPUD’s water system lacks adequate water capacity to fight a major fire.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Opinion: Soquel Creek should re-examine water need

We have learned over the last six years that the water need for Santa Cruz to meet its own annual demand is 1.1 billion gallons less than thought in 2014, when the two districts were pursuing the desalination plant.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Marina, Coastal Commission staff disagree over Cal Am right to desal appeal

Coastal Commission staff on Monday reiterated to The Herald that Cal Am can appeal the city’s denial under the state’s Coastal Act because the city charges an appeal fee. They called the city’s own rules “internally inconsistent” and noted the Coastal Act’s regulations supercede local ones.

Aquafornia news PasadenaNow.com

City council approves new PWP water rates

The new rates would increase the Distribution and Customer Charge, for all customers, by 5.7%, to generate annual revenue of $3.4 million, effective August 1, 2019. The new rates would also increase the Distribution and Customer Charge for all customers in July 2020 by 5.8%, to generate annual revenue of $3.7 million; and also increase the Commodity Charge, increasing the system average by 0.7%, to generate annual revenue of $0.5 million in July 2020.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Are Santa Clara Valley farmers paying too little for precious water?

The water that irrigates Santa Clara Valley’s last farms comes dirt cheap for growers who pump it out of the ground. They pay just a fraction — 6 percent — of the amount residents and businesses in the valley must pony up for their well water. The rest of the cost for farmers’ water is subsidized, mostly from revenue the Santa Clara Valley Water District receives through property taxes.

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: Listening to communities: A bottom-up approach to water planning in California

A Q&A with Valerie Olson, assistant professor, and Emily Brooks, post-doctoral researcher — both environmental anthropologists at UC Irvine. They have a new project aimed at getting a better understanding of how communities, particularly the underserved, think about and use their water, and how the agencies that provide water can better serve them.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Rebuilding Sonoma County: Larkfield area moving ahead on sewer extensions

Gena Jacob figures she may come out ahead, in at least one respect, in the wake of the Tubbs fire that leveled her Larkfield home. … Through a program created by Sonoma Water and offered to 143 homeowners in Larkfield Estates, they plan to connect to a new sewer line — freeing them from the constraints of their aging septic system — with a financing package that takes some of the sting out of the cost.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin water district signals changes to rate hike proposal

The district is proposing to raise rates by about 4 percent annually over the next four years and to impose a new annual capital maintenance fee. The fee, which would be based on customers’ meter size, would switch the district from borrowing money to a cash-based system for funding repairs and replacement of pipes, pumps, water tanks and treatment plants.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Madaffer says he’s the new sheriff in the San Diego water world

Since Jim Madaffer became chairman of the board of the San Diego County Water Authority, two long-time staffers have left and talk has begun heating up about a multibillion-dollar tunnel project to give San Diego a second connection to water from the Colorado River. The tunnel plan would be the single largest, most expensive and complex project the Water Authority has ever attempted.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Cal Am Water customers in Thousand Oaks to get way lower rate hikes

Some 22,000 California American Water customers in Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park and Camarillo are getting far lower rate increases than the company proposed in 2016, saving several million dollars a year combined. Thousand Oaks officials said this week that instead of being hit with a 32.1% hike over three years that the company wanted to impose and which the city actively opposed, customers only got a fraction of that.

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara Independent

Dragging feet on toilet-to-tap in Montecito

The current five members of the Montecito Water Board ran as slate candidates in 2016 and 2108, and they won election largely on the promise of recycling treated wastewater for irrigation. A group of wealthy donors poured $200,000 into their campaigns. Yet the new board seems in no hurry to get the job done.

Aquafornia news KPBS

‘Pure Water’ dominates infrastructure spending in San Diego’s 2020 budget

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer unveiled his proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 on Thursday, saying it includes the highest infrastructure investment in the city’s history. … The budget includes an infrastructure investment of $715.8 million, an increase of nearly 300% over the $179.4 million infrastructure allocation in the city’s fiscal year 2014 budget … More than half of that is earmarked for the city’s Pure Water program, which aims to recycle sewage into drinking water.

Aquafornia news The Capistrano Dispatch

Court rules for city in water rate refund suit

A Superior Court judge recently ruled in favor of the city of San Juan Capistrano, as the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit seeking millions in water rate refunds have been barred from moving the case forward. … The lawsuit stemmed from the city’s 2015 approval to issue refunds to customers who overpaid for water under San Juan’s previous tiered water rates, which the Fourth District Court of Appeals had affirmed as unconstitutional in April 2015.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Yes, we need clean water. But it must remain tax-free

Most states don’t tax milk, bread, fruit or vegetables because they are essential to human life. Food tax exemptions have been in place since the Great Depression, part of a social covenant formed to help the neediest afford life’s essentials. But Democratic Sen. William Monning of Carmel is leading an effort to tax something even more essential than groceries. Tax bills now under consideration seek to tax the water we use in our homes.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

San Jose Water wants to charge residents for conservation

San Jose Water, the local water company, recently sent out a public notice saying it wants to impose a year-long surcharge beginning this summer. The reason? To recover what it described as an “under-collection” of more than $9 million in fixed costs. … In other words, thank you for following the rules and limiting your water usage, but that’s hurt our bottom line, so we’ll be sending you a bill.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

In Marin water rate hike debate, talk turns to salaries and benefits

As the Marin Municipal Water District gears up to consider another rate and fee hike this year, some of the public debate has turned to whether the district is paying too much in salaries and benefits to its employees.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: A California tax to clean up toxic drinking water has lawmakers jumpy

The water tax will require a two-thirds vote in each house. Democrats have that and a little to spare. Still, the governor will need to use all his power of cajolery and coercion to win passage of any tax increase.

Aquafornia news Lancasteronline.com

Aging workforce hits water plants especially hard

Behind every toilet flush and faucet turn that draws on a public water system, there’s an entire industry making sure the water meets certain standards. … But McKeon and others in the field worry about a looming shortage of water-treatment plant operators, as a wave of older operators hits retirement age. McKeon fears that in the next 10 years, there won’t be enough operators to monitor and control every public water system adequately.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Stockton wastewater rates may be going up; public hearing set for May 21

Rate increases are being proposed in part to help pay for improvements to the Regional Wastewater Control Facility, which is set to go through the first phase of a modification project aimed at extending the life of existing amenities at the plant. The modification project will also improve working conditions for employees, and bring the site into compliance with national pollutant discharge standards.

Aquafornia news The Coast News Group

Helpful tips on how to save water and create a thriving garden in a desert climate

After a seven-year drought finally came to an end this winter, California has been hit with a deluge of vibrant greenery and super blooms. But we’re still keeping an eye out for how to make our own backyards more sustainable and water-friendly.

Aquafornia news Silicon Valley Business Journal

Opinion: Santa Clara Valley Water District proposes policy change that could hike prices on farmers

The Santa Clara Valley Water District, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority all recognize the importance of curbing urban sprawl, encouraging farm-to-fork enterprises, and providing open space for urban dwellers through various policies. However, well-meaning changes may have unintended consequences, putting these goals in jeopardy.

Aquafornia news SouthTahoeNow.com

STPUD to consider rate increase for adequate fire protection and pipe replacement

Customers of the South Tahoe Public Utility District (STPUD) may be looking at an annual increase on their water and sewer bills of 5.0 to 8.5 percent to cover costs of replacing aging infrastructure and enhancing local fire protection.

Aquafornia news Gulf News

Opinion: Story of my glorious brown lawn

The view from my window here in central California is of a front lawn almost as dried out as the fairways at Carnoustie, Scotland. Like many of my neighbours I’m concerned about climate change and with it the exorbitant price of water. After my monthly bill tripled, I decided it was time for a new strategy. I shut down the sprinkler system and tested a new aesthetic. To my delight, I discovered that brown is beautiful.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Water district GM: Listen to consultants on Cal Am buyout feasibility

Feasibility of a potential public buyout of California American Water’s local water system should be based on a consulting team’s advice on an acquisition plan that could succeed in a public necessity court trial while seeking cost savings for local ratepayers… That’s according to a recommendation from Monterey Peninsula Water Management District general manager Dave Stoldt to be considered on Monday.

Related article:

Aquafornia news KPBS

San Diego County’s long-time water chief retires

The San Diego County Water Authority’s General Manager notified the region’s water board on Wednesday that she is retiring. Maureen Stapleton has held the top job at the agency for more than two decades. She led the Water Authority through the complicated settlement negotiations surrounding the Colorado River. Stapleton also encouraged projects like the Carlsbad Desalination plant as a way to diversify the region’s water supply.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Water department gets second major shakeup in a year

San Diego’s water department is going through the second major shakeup in less than a year. At least five senior officials are out, including one who once tried to waive off an audit of the city’s troubled “smart” meter program. In January 2018, the department’s assistant director, Lee Ann Jones-Santos, said auditing the city’s effort to replace 280,000 water meters might make that $70 million program look bad.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Gov. Gavin Newsom faces a key test on his embrace of a new California water tax

Newsom has embraced an idea that has previously failed to gain traction in Sacramento: new taxes totaling as much as $140 million a year for a clean drinking water initiative. Much of it would be spent on short- and long-term solutions for low-income communities without the means to finance operations and maintenance for their water systems. … But the money to change that — what’s being called a “water tax” in state Capitol circles — is where the politics get complicated.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Redlands Daily Facts

Redlands wastewater treatment plant ‘a mess,’ requires $40 million in upgrades

Redlands’ wastewater treatment facility needs $40 million in upgrades soon thanks to years of deferred maintenance, officials say. But it could be worse – building a new facility would cost $100 million. The original plant was built in the 1960s, and the last major changes were made in 2004.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Chico, Oroville customers object to CalWater rate increase

Of the handful of speakers at the California Water Service hearing Tuesday, none supported the proposed rate increases for Chico,  objecting to  high costs, compensation to high-level executives and profit made by shareholders.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

American Canyon keeps Sites reservoir in its sights

American Canyon will continue looking to the proposed, massive Sites reservoir in Colusa County to someday help slake its thirst. The city of about 20,000 residents is the only Napa County city without a local reservoir. It depends on the state’s North Bay Aqueduct that pumps water out of Barker Slough, a dead-end slough in the Solano County portion of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news California Economic Summit

Blog: New study explores opportunities for business to contribute to California’s water sustainability challenge

The new report, “Sustainable Landscapes on Commercial and Industrial Properties in the Santa Ana River Watershed,” explores how landscape conversion on commercial and industrial properties can reduce water use, increase stormwater capture and groundwater recharge, improve water quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pesticide use.

Aquafornia news Martinez News-Gazette

Martinez City Council announces intent to change water rates

Martinez City Council agreed Wednesday to start the process of revising it water rates to make its fee system “defensible.” Many residential customers would see increases as a result, although a few customers with large meters will see their rates decline,

Aquafornia news Victorville Daily Press

Students get a lesson in water management

Water sustainability continues to be a complex issue and will require young, innovative minds to tackle it. This was the theme of the 2019 Innovators High Desert Water Summit, held Friday at High Desert Church. Hosted by the Mojave Water Agency, the event was titled “How Generation Z Will Save the Future of Water in California.” About 320 students, parents, and teachers from schools all over San Bernardino County attended.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Water districts make pitches to acquire San Juan Capistrano’s water and sewer system

San Juan Capistrano is looking to unload its water utility, as maintaining the system is expected to become costly for the community. The city is one of very few in south Orange County that manages its own water operations. After a 10-month review of the options, the City Council discussed on Tuesday, Feb. 5, which agency – Moulton Niguel Water District, Santa Margarita Water District and South Coast Water District – the city should enter into an exclusive negotiation agreement to acquire its water system.

Aquafornia news Santa Maria Times

Santa Barbara County retains control of contract for state water deliveries

Questions about financial liability and concerns over weighted votes among member agencies of the Central Coast Water Authority prompted the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors to take no action on transferring the state water contract to that joint-powers agency. … CCWA has been trying to have the contract reassigned since it was formed in 1991, but the Department of Water Resources would not agree to the request because it was unclear if a joint-powers agency could levy a property tax if a member defaulted on financial obligations.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California officials draft a $600M plan to help low-income households absorb rising water bills

Different from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s water tax proposal to fix decaying water systems in poor communities, the proposal before the State Water Board is focused on providing water service rate relief for California residents struggling to make ends meet. It is modeled after existing programs that offer low-income assistance rates for electricity and gas service.

Western Water Gary Pitzer Gary Pitzer

California Officials Draft a $600M Plan To Help Low-Income Households Absorb Rising Water Bills
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: State Water Board report proposes new taxes on personal and business income or fees on bottled water and booze to fund rate relief program

Filling a glass with clean water from the kitchen tap.Low-income Californians can get help with their phone bills, their natural gas bills and their electric bills. But there’s only limited help available when it comes to water bills.

That could change if the recommendations of a new report are implemented into law. Drafted by the State Water Resources Control Board, the report outlines the possible components of a program to assist low-income households facing rising water bills.

Aquafornia news KHTS

Governor Newsom’s proposed clean water tax would cost Santa Clarita $3.1 million per year

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed state budget recently included a drinking water tax that would cost Santa Clarita homeowners 95 cents per month to help disadvantaged communities clean up contaminated water sources. Santa Clarita residents paying the tax would see their water bill increase by $11.40 per year if the proposal is approved.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Panel discussion: Upgrading the water grid

In September of 2018, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released the report, “Managing Drought in a Changing Climate: Four Essential Reforms”, which asserted there are five climate pressures affecting California’s water… The report recommends four policy reforms: Plan ahead, upgrade the water grid, update water allocation rules, and find the money.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

City won’t say how $3b Pure Water project will affect customers’ bills

San Diego is in the midst of spending roughly $3 billion on a massive new water treatment system, but city officials can’t or won’t tell customers how that will affect their water bills. New water recycling plants will eventually purify enough sewage to provide a third of the city’s drinking water. In December, Voice of San Diego asked the city to estimate how much customers’ bills will increase because of the Pure Water project. The city, after weeks of delay, finally declined last week to offer any estimate because “there is no simple calculation” they could perform.

Aquafornia news Noozhawk

Montecito district board supports terms for water sales agreement with Santa Barbara

Terms were revealed this week for a developing water sales agreement between the Montecito Water District and City of Santa Barbara. The 50-year water sales agreement provides 1,430 acre-feet of water a year to Montecito, at a cost of about $2,700 per acre-foot. The terms of agreement allow for the possibility to purchase and receive 445 acre-feet of additional water each year.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Sonoma West Times & News

Well owners looking at fees for their groundwater usage

Water well owners in Sonoma County may get billed for their annual water usage under a proposed water-conservation plan up for discussion next week at a community meeting in Santa Rosa. The Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) is hosting the Jan. 30 meeting to hear feedback on its proposed “groundwater sustainability fee,” which would provide funding to support the new agency.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Water utilities call on big data to guide pipe replacements

Doing surgery on San Francisco’s water system is no simple task. Replacing one mile of distribution main costs about $3.8 million dollars. That’s just the direct cost of installing a section of drinking water pipe. There are also side effects: disruptions to traffic, sidewalks, and businesses when streets are pried open. In one of the nation’s densest and highest-cost cities the expense amounts to an incentive for well-informed decisions about what to dig up and when.

Aquafornia news Mountain View Voice

Water district weighs raising taxes or raising water bills

A long-standing feud over who should pay a $650 million bill for state water infrastructure reared its head Tuesday, as board members of Santa Clara County’s regional water district weighed whether to raise water bills or ramp up reliance on property taxes.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Alameda County Water District proposing 8 percent rate hike

The Alameda County Water District is proposing to raise customers’ bills 8 percent over the next two years to cover infrastructure costs as well as salary increases, benefits and pensions for its employees. The district also wants to create an emergency pricing schedule that kicks in during water shortages, such as in droughts.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Babbitt: Colorado River drought plan just the beginning of tough decisions needed

A proposed Colorado River drought plan that will cost well over $100 million is just the beginning of what’s needed to protect the over-allocated river, says Bruce Babbitt, the former governor who rammed through Arizona’s last big water legislation nearly four decades ago. After Gov. Doug Ducey urged legislators to “do the heavy lifting” and pass the proposed drought-contingency plan for the Colorado, Babbitt said Monday that authorities will have to start discussing a much longer-term plan immediately after it’s approved.

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

Nasdaq launches California water pricing index

Nasdaq, along with Veles Water and WestWater Research, has announced the launch of the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index (NQH2O), the first of its kind water index that benchmarks the price of water in a way that supports price discovery and enables the creation of a tradable financial instrument.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Blog: Gov. Newsom unveils $144 billion budget

The budget specifically calls out funding for Safe and Affordable Drinking Water. It discusses the need to find a stable funding source for long-term operation and maintenance of drinking water systems in disadvantaged communities, stating that existing loan and grant programs are limited to capital improvements.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Shared interest in universal safe drinking water

California’s failure to provide safe, affordable drinking water to the remaining roughly 1% of residents is probably the most solvable and affordable of California’s many difficult water problems.  There will always be isolated small systems with vexing problems, but the number of Californians currently without access to safe affordable drinking water is embarrassing and irresponsibly high.

Aquafornia news Phoenix New Times

On second try, Phoenix City Council raises water rates

In a 5-3 vote Wednesday that — intriguingly — fell along gender lines, the Phoenix City Council approved an increase in water rates, starting next month. “I thank the women to have the leadership and courage to do the right thing. 5-3,”  Interim Mayor Thelda Williams said. … Wednesday’s vote overturned the council’s previous rejection of the proposed increase, on December 12, that was also 5-3. 

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Newsom proposal wants to tax drinking water

Tackling what promises to be a controversial issue, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a tax on drinking water Thursday to help disadvantaged communities clean up contaminated water systems. Newsom’s plan for a “safe and affordable drinking water fund,” included in the new governor’s first budget proposal, attempts to revive an idea that died in the Legislature last year.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: California agency outlines $606M water rate assistance program

To subsidize drinking water bills for poor households, California regulators recommend new taxes on bottled water and incomes above $1 million a year, according to a draft proposal released by the State Water Resources Control Board. If the $606 million proposal, or an alternate version, is accepted by the Legislature, California would be the first state in the country to run a water bill assistance program.

Aquafornia news California Water Resources Control Board

Announcement: State seeks comments on low-income water rate assistance program

The State Water Resources Control Board will accept public comments on the draft report on Options for Implementation of a Statewide Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program. The report analyzes options for the design, funding, and administration of a program as well as other options to improve water affordability. Comments are due Feb. 1.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Western droughts hurt fight against climate change

A new study out of Stanford University finds that 10 percent of the total carbon dioxide spewed from California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho for power generation this century is the result of states turning to fossil fuels when water was too sparse to spin electrical turbines at dams.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: California utility regulators failed to properly oversee water suppliers, state audit finds

State utility regulators have not provided the public clear information about water-rate increases or made sure that suppliers notified customers about hearings related to those rate hikes, a new state audit has found. The California Public Utilities Commission also failed to conduct audits of private water utilities as required by law, according to findings released Tuesday by the California State Auditor.

Related Report:

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Palm Desert resident sues CVWD over property taxes, claims they illegally benefit farmers

Palm Desert resident Randy Roberts filed a class-action lawsuit against the Coachella Valley Water District on Dec. 3, claiming the cash-rich agency is illegally taxing non-agricultural homeowners and businesses and has diverted more than $60 million to fund projects that often benefit large farmers. … Roberts, a longtime critic of the water district, charges it has violated state voter-approved laws, including Prop. 13 and Prop. 218, and the constitution. 

As He Steps Aside, Tim Quinn Talks About ‘Adversarialists,’ Collaboration and Hope For Solving the State’s Tough Water Issues
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Tim Quinn, retiring executive director of Association of California Water Agencies

ACWA Executive Director Tim Quinn  with a report produced by Association of California Water Agencies on  sustainable groundwater management.  (Source:  Association of California Water Agencies)In the universe of California water, Tim Quinn is a professor emeritus. Quinn has seen — and been a key player in — a lot of major California water issues since he began his water career 40 years ago as a young economist with the Rand Corporation, then later as deputy general manager with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and finally as executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies. In December, the 66-year-old will retire from ACWA.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Los Angeles water officials cancel settlement meeting with San Diego County Water Authority

An offer last week by the San Diego County Water Authority board chairman to settle a host of litigation with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California was not well received by water officials to the north. MWD leaders accused their San Diego counterparts of violating an agreement to negotiate in private and abruptly canceled a meeting previously scheduled for Tuesday.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: San Diego County Water Authority proposes sweeping legal settlement with Metropolitan Water District

San Diego County water officials, who have been mired in legal disputes with their counterparts to the north over billions of dollars in rates and methodology, proposed a sweeping compromise Thursday that, if accepted, could end years of acrimony and expensive litigation.

Aquafornia news High Country News

The country’s cheapest water is in the West’s driest cities

If water were priced according to demand, many Westerners would be smelly and thirsty. But water is a necessity, and demand-based pricing would be unethical. … In California, for example, state law Proposition 218 outlaws water prices that are higher than the cost of providing water.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

State launches investigation into San Jose Water over-billing claims

A state commission will formally consider whether the San Jose Water Company has over-billed customers by millions of dollars for years. On Friday, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announced that it had opened an investigation into the company’s billing practices after a  staff report suggested that for at least 30 years, San Jose Water failed to pro-rate bills when a change in service charges went into effect in the middle of a billing cycle.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Over-billings on water meters in San Diego topped $2 million

When customers started complaining early last year about spiking water bills, authorities downplayed the situation. Water department officials repeatedly said that leaky toilets, broken sprinklers and the rising cost of water were likely to blame, even as customer complaints flooded into the agency’s public hotline for months.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Delta tunnels get ‘real’ as backers seek $1.6 billion loan from Trump administration

Critical permits and legal challenges are still pending, and some farming groups still haven’t committed to paying for part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial $17 billion Delta tunnels project. But even with the uncertainty, backers of the project are poised to ask the Trump administration for a $1.6 billion federal loan that millions of Californians ultimately would have to repay through increases in their water bills.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Federal bill would push water utility repairs without rate hikes

Recognizing that complying with federal requirements can cause water utilities to raise rates, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) introduced a bill this week aimed at helping low-income households pay their bills.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Price of water 2018: Utilities revise household water rate formulas

In contrast to the federal government’s chronic underinvestment in the pipes, pumps, and plants that supply and treat the nation’s drinking water, America’s large cities are forging ahead with fresh spending to modernize their systems. … The largest price increases occurred in California, where major utilities are in a construction frenzy to cleanse dirty water for reuse, gird pipes against earthquakes, and respond to water-supply vulnerabilities that were exposed during the five-year drought that ended last year. 

Aquafornia news Brookings

Can people afford American infrastructure?

Tracking how much Americans spend on infrastructure starts with defining the sector. In this case, we mean the essential services related to public works: water and sewer, electricity and gas, transportation, telephone, and broadband.

Aquafornia news The Orange County Register

Poseidon desalination plant: What to know about its pros and cons for Southern California water

The day of reckoning is drawing near for Huntington Beach’s long-planned desalination plant, which would help quench Orange County’s thirst with sea water and free up imported water for the rest of the Southern California. Twenty years and $50 million into the process, officials with plant purveyor Poseidon are optimistic they will get their final two permits — possibly by year’s end.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco raising water, sewer rates over 4 years

Water bills in San Francisco are set to rise steadily over the next four years, after the approval of a rate schedule by the city’s Public Utilities Commission. …  In addition to funding the commission’s regular operations, the rate increases will pay for a series of ambitious infrastructure upgrades to the city’s sewer system and vast Hetch Hetchy network that sends drinking water to 2.7 million Bay Area residents.

Aquafornia news Truckee Sun

Tahoe-Truckee area water agencies oppose California drinking water fee

The Tahoe-Truckee area’s water agencies say they oppose a budget trailer bill that is part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2018-19 budget. The bill, according to the Association of California Water Agencies, is essentially a modified form of State Bill 623, dubbed the “Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fee.”

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Southern California plans to spend $11 billion on the Delta tunnels. Who will end up paying?

When the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California voted to finance the lion’s share of the delta tunnels project, some on the board called it a bold stroke of leadership. The delegations from Los Angeles and San Diego, however, called the move alarming, financially risky and irresponsible.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: New fees proposed to pay for California’s contaminated water problem

As part of his final budget proposal, Gov. Jerry Brown wants new fees on water to provide clean and affordable drinking water to the approximately 1 million Californians who are exposed to contaminated water in their homes and communities each year. … About 100 state residents who lack access to clean drinking water will head to the Capitol today and join with several lawmakers to support Brown’s proposal … 

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Californians are struggling to pay for rising water rates

Max Gomberg, the State Water Resources Control Board’s climate and conservation manager, says the price of water has increased at six times the rate of inflation across the state. Gomberg’s agency is currently drafting a set of recommendations that will help the state legislature develop a financial assistance program for residents with soaring water rates.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Hundreds turn out to public forum to discuss skyrocketing water bills

Hundreds of frustrated and angry residents turned out Thursday night for a city-held public forum at Mira Mesa Senior Center to address surging water bills — a long-simmering controversy that has now reached a boiling point.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

California Water Board delays affordability report

Citing the need for more deliberation, California regulators delayed publication of a report that will outline their preferred plan to fund and manage a statewide program to help poor residents pay their water bills. As water rates increase in the United States, governments and utilities are exploring new forms of financial aid.

Aquafornia news Brookings

Water affordability is not just a local challenge, but a federal one too

America is facing a water infrastructure crisis. … Investing more in the country’s water infrastructure would help—which the Trump administration and other federal leaders appear to be considering in 2018—but simply throwing more money at these problems does not necessarily address another enormous challenge facing utilities and the communities they serve: water affordability.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

When the water is shut off

All utilities, to varying degrees, shut off water service to households who do not pay bills. Shutoffs, utilities argue, are an essential tool for maintaining financial health. They are the leverage that ensures payment. The universe of U.S. water utilities is vast and varied. There are more than 50,000 systems that serve 15 or more people year-round.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Utilities celebrate Trump’s tax cuts, but will customers benefit?

Utilities from California to Florida are seeing their expenses drop dramatically with the GOP tax overhaul, which could save these regulated electric, gas and water utilities billions of dollars each year. … California is home to numerous investor-owned utilities, ranging from Pacific Gas & Electric to private water companies.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: ‘Reasonable rates’ is stricken from CPUC mission statement

The California Public Utilities Commission has amended its long-standing mission statement, leaving out the idea of ensuring “reasonable rates” for the water and power used by the public. … Spokeswoman Terrie Prosper said the change has not affected the commission’s dedication to making sure water and power costs are affordable for California consumers.

Aquafornia news PBS NewsHour

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Who controls the water supply? Answer involves long history of political strife.

A Native American tribe in Northern California was appalled last month when Shasta County demanded an extra $1,000 in penalties for their water bill. Thirty members of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, ranging in age from 1 to 70 years old, live in a cluster of trailers on 42 acres of land that is zoned for a single household.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego loses billions in potential water savings under court ruling

The California Supreme Court effectively brought to end this week a longstanding, bitter fight between water managers in Los Angeles and San Diego — a ruling that means the loss of billions in potential savings for local ratepayers.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

San Diego County Water Authority loses long-running bid against MWD to lower water costs

The San Diego County Water Authority has lost a major legal battle to reduce the price of San Diego’s water. For years, San Diego water officials argued the region’s major supplier of water, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, charges too much to deliver water to San Diego from the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news KPCC Southern California Public Radio

How much might ‘the California Water Fix’ cost Los Angeles

A Los Angeles City Council committee heard public debate Tuesday over the amount that a massive project known as the California Water Fix could add to the water bills of local ratepayers.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: When it comes to water service how expensive is too expensive?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of households earning less than $US 15,000 per year grew more between 2000 and 2015 than any equivalent segment of the income distribution. At the same time water rates, driven by the cost to maintain or replace water treatment plants and delivery pipes, are rising at double or triple the rate of inflation.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: California drinking water could soon be taxed

For the first time Californians would pay a tax on drinking water — 95 cents per month — under legislation aimed at fixing hundreds of public water systems with unsafe tap water.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Delta tunnels project needs water agencies to pay for it (with graphic)

As California water agencies prepare to vote next month on paying for the tunnels, which are supposed to improve water deliveries to the southern half of the state, the stark difference between urban and rural water users’ expected costs illustrates one of the project’s main stumbling blocks.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Southern Californians, here’s how much your water bills could rise to pay for Delta tunnels

More than 6 million Southern Californian households could pay $3 more a month to help cover the costs of Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial plan to bore two huge tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

East Bay water district board OKs big rate hikes over protests

East Bay water rates that had already doubled over the past 10 years are shooting up another 19 percent, utility directors decided Tuesday over the objections of scores of angry customers.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Complaints pour in over planned East Bay water rate hike

A plan to raise East Bay water rates by nearly 20 percent partly to make up for all the lost revenue from customers who were responsible during the drought was facing a deluge of outrage Monday. 

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

California drought may be over, but conservation controversy continues

An effort by California officials to carry their success with water conservation beyond the drought is not sitting well with local water managers, many of whom are eager to shake off state control. … The proposal was met with howls of protest from many local water agency leaders, who say budget-based water rates are too costly and complicated to adopt. Some also object to state meddling in water rates, historically the sole province of local water utilities.

Western Water Gary Pitzer Gary Pitzer

Drought’s Impact on Fiscal Planning Highlights PPIC Report
Suppliers need “proactive” drought pricing to prevent cash crunch

During drought, people conserve water. That’s a good thing for public water agencies and the state as a whole but the reduction in use ultimately means less money flowing into the budgets of those very agencies that need funds to treat water to drinkable standards, maintain a distribution system, and build a more drought-proof supply.

“There are two things that can’t happen to a water utility – you can’t run out of money and you can’t run out of water,” said Tom Esqueda, public utilities director for the city of Fresno. He was a panelist at a June 16 discussion in Sacramento about drought resiliency sponsored by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

EBMUD’s $120,000 mistake

The East Bay Municipal Utility District is spending $120,000 to resend all of its 385,000 account holders a notice of a proposed 19 percent rate increase after discovering the first mailing omitted 15,000 to 20,000 customers. … Under the state’s voter-approved Proposition 218, public agencies must mail out a notice of rate increases 45 days before adopting them.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Price of water 2017: Four percent increase in 30 large U.S. cities

Belying their reputation as conservative institutions that resist change, large U.S. water utilities, in response to slow-motion social and hydrological shifts that alter water availability and use, are showing signs of creativity. The inspiration is reflected in their rates, which continue a relentless, but slowing, upward climb. … The challenge for utilities today is threefold: earn enough revenue to repair broken pipes, keep water affordable for the poor, and do so while selling less of their product.

Aquafornia news KPBS Public Broadcasting, San Diego

State appeals court hears San Diego water dispute

The California Courts of Appeal has 90 days to decide the fate of a water rate dispute between a Los Angeles-based water wholesaler and San Diego County water managers. At issue is the cost of moving water through the Metropolitan Water District’s delivery system.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Did Los Angeles DWP overcharge you? Customers to receive information on billing settlement starting this week

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers will soon be able to recover their money from a landmark class-action settlement.

Aquafornia news KQED Public Media for Northern California

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Why this California town’s water costs way more than the national average

In his 100-day action plan to “Make America Great Again,” President Trump proposed privatization as the best strategy for fixing the country’s infrastructure, including roads, bridges and water systems. That’s already happened in Lake County’s Lucerne and other small towns like it throughout California — and it’s not working out very well for people like the Cruz family.

Aquafornia news Glendale News-Press

Glendale’s water rates violate state law, judge rules

Last week, a judge ruled against the city of Glendale for violating Proposition 218 in creating its current water rate-pricing structure first adopted in 2014, in a lawsuit brought by the Glendale Coalition for Better Government.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Desert Water Agency approves significant rate hike

The Desert Water Agency Board of Directors unanimously approved a significant rate hike Thursday, the first in a series of five increases that — if all are eventually approved —   could result in an almost 80 percent increase to customers’ bills over the next four years if all are passed.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Wealthy Hillsborough residents sue, saying water rates are too high

In a case that could have statewide ramifications, a group of multimillionaire Hillsborough residents, including an early funder of Microsoft, has sued the town claiming that its drought rules and penalties intended to keep people from over-watering big lawns are illegal.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles DWP owes LA customers $67.5 million because of rampant overbilling

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power owes its customers at least $67.5 million in refunds and credits after the utility overbilled them, an independent monitor has concluded.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

How water use has declined with population growth

After examining water use data and water agencies’ urban water plans, [Heather] Cooley and her colleagues found that while water use stayed stagnant or declined in some areas, many utilities were projecting increased water use in the future, which shows they’re not allowing for efficiency improvements and so they could be overestimating demand, which could increase costs for rate payers for water they may not use.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Fight over Yorba Linda water rates culminates in recall vote

An acrimonious fight over a water-rate increase in Orange County will culminate Tuesday when voters decide whether to recall two of their local water district’s board members and whether to reelect a third.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

California designs first statewide water affordability program

Prompted by a 2015 state law, the State Water Resources Control Board has begun designing a program to provide state aid to individuals and families who need help paying their water bills. Due to the Legislature by February 1, 2018, California is determined to be the first to use state funds to subsidize water service for poor residents, water rate experts say.

Aquafornia news The Orange County Register

Judge says Yorba Linda water board’s fee increase was legal

The Yorba Linda Water District won its legal fight Monday against a community group opposed to a $25 monthly water-rate increase imposed on ratepayers.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Judge — Yorba Linda residents can’t use a referendum to void water rate hikes

Orange County Superior Court judge ruled Monday in a closely watched case that customers of a water district cannot void rate increases using a referendum.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: How revenue losses played into decision to relax conservation rules in California

It wasn’t just generous spring rains filling north-state reservoirs that had California’s urban water districts pushing back so hard against mandatory water cuts this year. All those brown lawns and shorter showers have cost them millions in customer revenue.

Aquafornia news The Orange County Register

Watchdog: Water fight may leave some Orange County customers with bigger bills

The latest skirmish in the water wars asks the cryptic question: When is water not really water? The answer, it seems, is when words in an 83-year-old law – a law conceived long before the notion that recycled sewage was anything but disgusting – essentially negate its existence.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Residents in westside town get extra money to offset water bills

Residents of El Porvenir, threatened with water shutoff in August as their neighbors in Cantua Creek were last year, are getting financial relief from the state. … In April, the farmworker residents of the tiny western Fresno County town rejected a higher water rate over five years that amounted to about $5 a month the first year.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Water district approves controversial rate increase

The board of the Coachella Valley Water District voted on Tuesday to raise rates after hearing an outpouring of opposition from dozens of people who protested the increase as excessive.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Plan to raise water rates sparks controversy

A plan to raise water rates in communities from Cathedral City to La Quinta is being questioned and scrutinized by customers who say they’re about to be hit with an excessive financial burden.

Aquafornia news The Orange County Register

Battle over water rates in Yorba Linda could spill beyond Orange County

How much money does the water district have, and how much does it really need? … Yorba Linda’s case is a high-stakes test of the power of Proposition 218, which gave Californians the power to repeal or reduce any local tax, assessment or fee.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Yorba Linda legal fight turns nasty as residents seek to overturn water rate hike

At issue is a $25-per-month rate hike that Yorba Linda Water District officials say was needed to keep the agency solvent after state-mandated water conservation blew a hole in its budget.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Modesto Irrigation District critics welcome class-action lawsuit over electricity subsidy

News of a class-action lawsuit against the Modesto Irrigation District brought similar reactions from its most frequent critics, all of whom said it’s about time.

Aquafornia news KPBS Public Media

San Diego County Water Authority files lawsuit against MWD

The San Diego County Water Authority on Wednesday announced the filing of another lawsuit over rates charged by the Metropolitan Water District, a Los Angeles-based water wholesaler.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Higher water rates likely due to mandate

This is the time of year when water utilities set their rates, which almost inevitably go up. But this year, the rate hikes are likely to be higher than usual, as water utilities cope with the unexpected impact of mandatory conservation on their budgets.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Clovis water savers soon won’t benefit from lower rates

In a move that even Clovis city officials agree is unlikely to bolster water conservation efforts, the city is changing its water rate structure so that residents using less will pay more. New rates will go into effect July 1 if the City Council approves them Monday night.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Despite loss in court, water supplier still sticking San Diego with big bills

Even though San Diego water customers may be owed hundreds of millions of dollars by the region’s largest water supplier, it will be a long time before anyone sees a dime. 

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Water affordability is a new civil rights movement in the United States

The cost of drinking water and sewer services in the United States, rising on average at twice the rate of inflation, is giving birth to a new civil rights movement, one based on access to water and sanitation for the poor.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

The world’s poorest pay largest percentage of income for water, study says

The study, “Water: At What Cost? The State of the World’s Water,” coincides with the international observance of World Water Day.

Commands