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 SJV Sun

Fresno eyes to recoup cash for $4mil in unpaid water bills

With Fresnans in arrears more than $4 million for utility bills racked up during the coronavirus pandemic, lawmakers are set to take action Thursday to recoup that money while instituting a new water shutoff policy for delinquent residents.  Thanks to Senate Bill 998, which became effective in February 2020, water shutoffs in California are prohibited for people who have not paid their bills for fewer than 60 days. 

Aquafornia news The Conversation

Blog: Millions of Americans struggle to pay their water bills – here’s how a national water aid program could work

Running water and indoor plumbing are so central to modern life that most Americans take them from granted. But these services aren’t free, and millions struggle to afford them. A 2019 survey found that U.S. households in the bottom fifth of the economy spent 12.4% of their disposable income on water and sewer services. News reports suggest that for low-income households, this burden has increased during the pandemic.

Aquafornia news Capital and Main

California utilities leaving millions in debt relief on the table

As the application window for a near billion-dollar state program designed to help cash-strapped Californians with pandemic-related drinking water debt nears its close date, almost 50% of eligible water systems have fully completed the application, but nearly one quarter haven’t yet started the process — a scenario that could see many struggling households lose the chance to have their financial burdens alleviated. 

Aquafornia news Del Norte Triplicate

Past-due water fees could be waived

Crescent City’s water and sewer customers who didn’t pay for their water over a 15-month period during the pandemic will likely have those delinquent notices waived. From March 4, 2020 to June of this year, there were 334 accounts past due, for a total of $71,984.60. … On November 15, the city council authorized City Manager Eric Wier to apply for funding to pay off those bills. The funding will come from $985 million that the State of California received  under the American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress in March.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

Palmdale Water District to extend its water-saving rebates

As it works to encourage water conservation during California’s drought, the Palmdale Water District is extending its water-saving rebate program from residential to commercial customers, as well. This is the first time the water provider has offered the rebate program to its commercial and industrial customers, according to a statement from the District. Seven types of rebates are available for businesses within the District. 

Aquafornia news KTVU 2 - Oakland

Thousands of San Jose residents behind on water bills

The number of San Jose homes and businesses with overdue water bills spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many could see their taps run dry when the state ban on water shutoffs ends in December. At least 1,160 customers have unpaid bills totaling a combined $1.1 million with the San Jose Municipal Water System as of June, according to a city audit published earlier this week.

Aquafornia news Patch, Oceanside

City of Oceanside gets smart on water technology projects & plans

The City of Oceanside continues to be at the forefront of water management in San Diego county with projects like WaterSmart meters and Pure Water Oceanside that demonstrate the city’s commitment to deliver clean, safe and affordable water. A recent Voice of San Diego report showed Oceanside has among the lowest water rate increases in the county with an average 13.7% increase from 2017 to 2022. Compare that to the sizeable 38% increase in water rates for Del Mar during the same 5 year time period.

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.

Video

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. 

Video

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.