Topic: Water Rates


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 Monterey County Weekly

Commentary: A big update on water politics on the Monterey Peninsula.

Across Monterey County, there are few topics more talked about or litigated than water.  David Schmalz here, and I’ve covered water in most corners of the county for the better part of the last decade, and in my opinion, the topic has never been more interesting or eventful than it is right now, at least on the Monterey Peninsula. I’m going to be covering a lot of ground here—err, water, I mean—but I’ll keep it as tight as I can. There’s a lot to catch you up on. First, on Sept. 13, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District released its draft “resolution of necessity,” a document that, if approved, is the first step in the eminent domain process for a public buyout of Cal Am’s Monterey service area.
-Written by columnist David Schmalz. 

Aquafornia news North Bay Business Journal

Napa proposes hike in monthly water rates to help offset rising operational costs

The city of Napa is set to consider an increase to water rates for the first time in two years to cover the increasing costs of providing service. The Napa City Council will hold a hearing Nov. 7 to adopt the new rates. If approved, they would be effective Jan. 1 and customers likely would see the impact on bills in March and April, said Joy Eldredge, deputy city utilities director. The recommended increase will typically add up to about $5 each month in the winter and $10 each month in the summer for average users — between 4,000 and 8,000 gallons — each year until 2028 for residential users within the city.

Aquafornia news KSBW - Monterey

Water district holds public hearing to consider acquisition of Monterey Water System

The Board of Directors of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District plans on holding a public hearing to consider the acquisition of the Monterey Water System. The board is considering adopting a Resolution of Necessity for taking by eminent domain in order to convert the privately owned and operated water system to public ownership and control. Currently, the Monterey Water System is privately held by the California American Water Company.

Aquafornia news Patch - Pleasanton

Pleasanton council votes to delay proposed water rate hikes

The Pleasanton City Council voted Tuesday to delay a controversial plan to raise water rates by 62 percent over the next three years. Council members voted to conduct further analysis based on numerous resident concerns, and reconsider the hikes at their Nov. 7 meeting. The council voted unanimously to delay the vote, though Councilmember Julie Testa left before the vote due to a family emergency.

Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

In split vote, San Diego raises water rates by nearly 20 percent over 2 years. For some, that’s ‘tough to swallow.’

San Diego water rates will rise nearly 20 percent over the next two years after a divided City Council approved Tuesday the first comprehensive rate hike in nearly eight years. The rate increases, approved by a vote of 5-3, will come in three parts: A 5 percent hike on Dec. 1, a 5.2 percent increase next July 1 and an 8.75 percent jump in January 2025. An earlier version of the proposal would have raised the rates more quickly — by 10.2 percent on Dec. 1 and 8.75 percent in January 2025. When compounded, the increases total a 19.8 percent jump. For the average single-family homeowner, that’s an increase of about $12 per month.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Editorial: Can California Gov. Gavin Newsom show some guts on these 5 controversial bills?

Gov. Gavin Newsom has before him about a thousand bills approved by the California Legislature that now await his fate but some are far more explosive and politically consequential than others. These bills in Newsom’s pile could reveal how the governor is evolving as a leader, and now he has less than a month to review them. … Here is an obscure bill that will reveal a lot about how much Newsom listens to his inner circle or his own common sense. Two water districts in Southern California want to switch water suppliers and leave the San Diego County Water Authority, the long-time primary provider for the region. The county’s Local Agency Formation Commission said yes, including an exit fee intended to address impacts to the SDCWA budget. 

Aquafornia news Pomerado News

San Diego expected to approve water-rate hikes of almost 20 percent

San Diego water bills would rise nearly 20 percent under a rate-increase proposal the City Council is scheduled to consider Tuesday. The increase, which city officials began studying last fall, would be the first comprehensive rate hike approved by the council in nearly eight years. It would include a 10.2 increase this December and an 8.75 percent jump in January 2025. City officials say they need additional revenue increases to cover rising costs for imported water, upgrades to thousands of aging pipes and a long list of short-term and long-term capital projects. The capital projects include the Pure Water sewage-recycling system, which has been under construction since last year, and upgrades needed to several aging city dams that state officials have deemed in poor condition.

Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

Grover Beach CA may raise water, sewer rates due to deficit

Water and sewer bills in Grover Beach could increase by nearly 20% to make up for a $2 million deficit in revenue, the city announced Wednesday in a news release. At its Sept. 5 meeting, the Grover Beach City Council learned about the findings from a recent utility rate study, heard recommendations and unanimously instructed the city staff to start the Proposition 218 process, a step in notifying the public about proposed rate changes, the release said. Prior to the 2023 study, the city conducted rate studies approximately every five years, with one conducted in 2021.

Aquafornia news Pleasanton Weekly

Pleasanton residents weigh in on proposed water rate increases — and they’re not happy

More than a thousand people have recently signed a new petition to ask the Pleasanton City Council and city staff to postpone the upcoming decision to increase water rates. The petition on, which cites just over 1,600 signatures as of Wednesday morning, claims that city officials have not done a good job communicating accurate information about their proposal — which is a shared concern among some residents. Resident concerns were heightened after the city sent out a state-mandated public notice brochure, which many said was very confusing to read and understand. Several residents, like Jocelyn Combs, even pointed out formatting errors that made the document difficult to follow.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

East Orosi residents protest what they say is abusive, dysfunctional water district

Just as residents in rural East Orosi are getting some traction on drinking water issues, they are dealing with what they call abusive treatment over sewage services and they’ve had enough. At a recent protest during the East Orosi Community Services District meeting, about 40 residents laid out charges of mistreatment. They alleged the district has overcharged them and even threatened to call immigration services on some residents. They laid the blame at the feet of a single district employee and what they say is a dysfunctional board. The problem is apparently tangled up with conjoined water issues that have separate oversight authority – sewage and drinking water.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Supervisors wade into Rainbow, Fallbrook, SDCWA water fight

San Diego County supervisors have formally weighed in on a contentious — and increasingly costly — plan by two rural water districts to break away from a regional authority they say is too expensive. The county board voted 3-1 this week in favor of a recommendation from Supervisor Joel Anderson to support state legislation that would require approval by a majority of all voters within the regional water authority — rather than only those residents of a breakaway district. “This process would allow water customers of all (San Diego County Water Authority) member agencies to decide what is best for our region’s water future and the potential implications of their own water bills,” the former state senator told his board colleagues.

Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Opinion: Ranchers’ GSA fees should be lower

Cattle producers who own and manage land in Butte, Colusa, Glenn, and Tehama counties are gravely concerned with the approach adopted by the Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) in our respective basin/counties. In every basin, non-extractors (or de minimis users who only pump stock water) are being assessed acreage fees by the GSA to generate the funding required to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Cattle producers are predominantly rangeland operations that do not use groundwater, and in fact, serve as a net recharge zone for the basins.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: DWP makes it expensive and time-consuming to build new housing. These new policies could help

In a city infamous for business-squelching bureaucracy, no agency is more maligned than the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Developers who want to build housing, shopping centers or other commercial projects face steep costs and long delays in getting permits and connections to the city’s electric power system. The DWP’s convoluted process can add so much time, money and uncertainty to a project that some businesses decide to build elsewhere, costing the city much-needed investment, particularly in housing. This month the DWP adopted the second of two policies aimed at making the utility more business friendly by cutting power infrastructure costs for individual housing and commercial projects. It’s a good start, but there’s a lot more work to do.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Modesto will raise water rates nearly 25% by 2027

The Modesto City Council voted Tuesday evening to boost water rates nearly 25% by 2027. The average residential bill will go from $67.13 a month now to $83.66 in 2027, a staff report said. Actual charges are much higher in the dry months and lower in other times. Under state law, the proposal would have died if a majority of the 75,584 customers filed protests. Only 144 did.

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Aquafornia news Times of San Diego

Water authority cites CEQA in lawsuit to stop Fallbrook and Rainbow detachment

The San Diego County Water Authority filed suit Monday to stop the rural Fallbrook and Rainbow water districts from leaving the county system, citing environmental harm under the California Environmental Quality Act. The lawsuit filed in Superior Court challenges a decision by the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission to allow the two districts to join Riverside County without paying what the Water Authority says is their fair share of water-reliability investments. The “detachment” effort is the first of its kind in California and would shift approximately $140 million in costs to the rest of the Water Authority’s customers.

Pandemic Lockdown Exposes the Vulnerability Some Californians Face Keeping Up With Water Bills
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Growing mountain of water bills spotlights affordability and hurdles to implementing a statewide assistance program

Single-family residential customers who are behind on their water bills in San Diego County's Helix Water District can get a one-time credit on their bill through a rate assistance program funded with money from surplus land sales.As California slowly emerges from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, one remnant left behind by the statewide lockdown offers a sobering reminder of the economic challenges still ahead for millions of the state’s residents and the water agencies that serve them – a mountain of water debt.

Water affordability concerns, long an issue in a state where millions of people struggle to make ends meet, jumped into overdrive last year as the pandemic wrenched the economy. Jobs were lost and household finances were upended. Even with federal stimulus aid and unemployment checks, bills fell by the wayside.

Western Water California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

With Sustainability Plans Filed, Groundwater Agencies Now Must Figure Out How To Pay For Them
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: California's Prop. 218 taxpayer law and local politics could complicate efforts to finance groundwater improvement projects

A groundwater monitoring well in Colusa County, north of Sacramento. The bill is coming due, literally, to protect and restore groundwater in California.

Local agencies in the most depleted groundwater basins in California spent months putting together plans to show how they will achieve balance in about 20 years.

Western Water 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.

Western Water California Water Map Layperson's Guide to the State Water Project Gary Pitzer

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.

Western Water 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).

Western Water Magazine

Ante Up: Funding California’s Water
May/June 2014

This printed issue of Western Water looks at how water use is paid for and the push to make public financing more flexible.

Western Water Magazine

Are We Keeping Up With Water Infrastructure Needs?
January/February 2012

This printed issue of Western Water examines water infrastructure – its costs and the quest to augment traditional brick-and-mortar facilities with sleeker, “green” features.

Western Water Magazine

Dollars and Sense: How We Pay for Water
September/October 2009

This printed issue of Western Water examines the financing of water infrastructure, both at the local level and from the statewide perspective, and some of the factors that influence how people receive their water, the price they pay for it and how much they might have to pay in the future.

Western Water Magazine

Changing the Status Quo: The 2009 Water Package
January/February 2010

This printed issue of Western Water looks at some of the pieces of the 2009 water legislation, including the Delta Stewardship Council, the new requirements for groundwater monitoring and the proposed water bond.

Western Water Magazine

A ‘New Direction’ for Water Decisions? The California Water Plan
May/June 2010

This printed issue of Western Water examines the changed nature of the California Water Plan, some aspects of the 2009 update (including the recommendation for a water finance plan) and the reaction by certain stakeholders.

Western Water Magazine

Small Water Systems, Big Challenges
May/June 2008

This printed copy of Western Water examines the challenges facing small water systems, including drought preparedness, limited operating expenses and the hurdles of complying with costlier regulations. Much of the article is based on presentations at the November 2007 Small Systems Conference sponsored by the Water Education Foundation and the California Department of Water Resources.

Western Water Magazine

Viewing Water with a Wide Angle Lens: A Roundtable Discussion
January/February 2013

This printed issue of Western Water features a roundtable discussion with Anthony Saracino, a water resources consultant; Martha Davis, executive manager of policy development with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and senior policy advisor to the Delta Stewardship Council; Stuart Leavenworth, editorial page editor of The Sacramento Bee and Ellen Hanak, co-director of research and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.


Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (60-minute DVD)

Many Californians don’t realize that when they turn on the faucet, the water that flows out could come from a source close to home or one hundreds of miles away. Most people take their water for granted; not thinking about the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state. Where drinking water comes from, how it’s treated, and what people can do to protect its quality are highlighted in this 2007 PBS documentary narrated by actress Wendie Malick. 


Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (30-minute DVD)

A 30-minute version of the 2007 PBS documentary Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Dollars and Sense: How We Pay For Water
September/October 2009

It’s no secret that providing water in a state with the size and climate of California costs money. The gamut of water-related infrastructure – from reservoirs like Lake Oroville to the pumps and pipes that deliver water to homes, businesses and farms – incurs initial and ongoing expenses. Throw in a new spate of possible mega-projects, such as those designed to rescue the ailing Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and the dollar amount grows exponen­tially to billion-dollar amounts that rival the entire gross national product of a small country.