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 Los Angeles Times

Editorial: California’s water shortage requires updates in technology, law — and mindset

Californians responded to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s request for voluntary water conservation earlier this year by using more, not less. … Already, residents face sharp new outdoor water restrictions June 1, and serious doubts over whether those limits will be enough to cope with a historic water shortage. It’s a good time to imagine the ideal California of the future, in which information technology and rational pricing make water conservation simple, understandable and a common way of life. Here’s how it should work, as a resident pulls out his or her phone and at the touch of a button checks the household’s water use for that day in real time: 

Aquafornia news Bond Buyer

Pressure grows on California water agencies as drought worsens

As drought conditions worsen in California and other western states, rating analysts are weighing the potential impacts. California state water officials announced during a media call Tuesday that the governor plans to increase his budget request for state conservation efforts after the state’s residents failed to heed his request in March to reduce consumption, instead increasing usage by 19% compared to the same month in 2020. Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to add an additional $180 million for a total of $300 million when he releases his revised proposed budget on Friday, said Lisa Lien-Mager, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Water Resources.

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Aquafornia news Long Beach Post News

Water Commission may issue another $21.8 million in rebates to customers

Long Beach residents and business owners could soon get another one-time credit on their monthly water bills if the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners votes Thursday to return upward of $21.8 million to customers later this year. The vote is looming because, in March, the city lost an appeal to keep in place the Measure M charter amendment, which allowed the Water Department to transfer millions of dollars in excess money to the city’s general fund each year. 

Aquafornia news Long Beach Post News

Water Commission votes to cut rates to align with court ruling

Long Beach Water Department customers will be seeing a small decrease in their monthly bills after the city’s water commission voted Wednesday to lower rates after the city’s legal defeat over transferring excess revenue from the department into its general fund. The 2.54% decrease will result in a savings of about $2 per month for most residential customers for the rest of the fiscal year that ends in September. Lauren Gold, the department’s public information officer, said the reduction will result in a loss of about $3 million for the department.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Kill the Huntington Beach desalination project already

When it comes to wasteful, overpriced and ill-considered proposals to address California’s water supply issues, it’s hard to know where to start. But a good place would be the plan to build a desalination plant on the Pacific coast at Huntington Beach. … As I’ve reported in the past, there isn’t much to recommend the Huntington Beach project. It would seriously damage the marine coastal environment, produce the costliest water of any source available and raise water bills for residents and businesses.
-Written by Michael Hiltzik, LA Times business columnist.

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Aquafornia news Herald and News

Why farmers often pay higher water rates and fees during drought

California walnut grower Tim McCord is at the dry end of the spigot, facing a zero-water allocation from the Central Valley Project, which is supposed to deliver to his local San Benito County Water District. … The farmer is not just concerned about his orchard; he’s also frustrated that he owes substantial water-related taxes to the district, and, if water is eventually delivered, he’ll be charged $309.75 per acre-foot — more than in non-drought years. McCord is not alone. During drought, it’s common for farmers across the West to pay higher water-related rates, assessments, fees and taxes than during wet years.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Third year of drought pushes price of water to $2,000 an acre foot

A sale of agricultural water within the Panoche Water District on the upper west side of the San Joaquin Valley hit the eye-popping price of $2,000 per acre foot recently. The buyer bought 668 acre feet in a deal that was brokered by Nat DiBuduo with Alliance Ag Services. … Last year, the same sellers, also unnamed, sold water for $1,648 and $1,800 per acre foot, indicating how a third year of drought is pushing up the price of water, according to the broker.

Aquafornia news Spectrum News 1

Farmer experiments with crops as mountain runoff dwindles

To see the trickle-down effect of the drought, you don’t have to look much further than farms. Agriculture accounts for about 80% of the water used in California. … Selling fruit got tougher during the COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining the farm got more expensive. Despite painstaking rationing and letting go of several productive acres, water remains Bernard’s most painful monthly expense. His February bill was as expensive as last June’s — normally one of the hottest and driest times.

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Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Proposed well water fee for rural residents in Santa Rosa groundwater basin is $20 a year

Rural residents using well water in the sprawling Santa Rosa Plain would pay about $20 a year under a state-mandated program aimed at protecting groundwater for the next 50 years. The 10-member board that governs the agency overseeing Sonoma County’s largest groundwater basin favors a regulatory fee structure based on the estimated amount of water well owners pump from the ground, officials reported at a virtual community meeting Wednesday night.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Can I get help with my overdue water bill in California?

New guidelines were released in early April for a federally funded program meant to help low income families pay their outstanding water bills. The Low Income Household Water Assistance Program is part of an emergency effort to respond to the economic impacts caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In California, the Department of Community Services and Development is the designated agency responsible for overseeing the program. The finalized state plan defines the scope of the program and how it will be implemented.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Santa Paula to cover some residents’ unpaid water bills

Some Santa Paula residents with overdue water bills are getting a break thanks to a state grant for COVID-19 pandemic relief. The city is using $366,000 in funds from the State Water Resources Control Board through the California Water and Wastewater Arrearage Payment Program to cover overdue residential and commercial water bill payments as a result of the pandemic, according to a news release. 

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Sonoma County unveils first-ever proposed well water fees under pioneering California groundwater law

In a dramatic shift from California’s history of allowing landowners to freely pump and consume water from their own wells, Sonoma County’s rural residents and many others will soon begin paying for the water drawn from beneath their feet…. The residential fees are based on an assumption that rural residents typically pump a half-acre foot of well water a year. Most homes do not have water meters and none will be installed under the fee program. Large groundwater water users — including ranches, cities, water districts and businesses — would pay fees based on the volume of water drawn from their wells.

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Aquafornia news Vallejo Times-Herald

Proposed stormwater fee not approved by Vallejo property owners

The Vallejo Flood & Wastewater District announced Tuesday that the proposed stormwater fee for Vallejo property owners did not pass the vote. The fee increase was put forward to help cover the cost of providing flood protection, improve water quality in local creeks and lakes with trash removal, and other projects that are required under California and federal laws. Most Vallejo residents have not seen an increase to their $1.97 per month stormwater fee in 25 years. Of the 32,331 ballots mailed to property owners, 7,210 (22.30 percent) were returned — 32.21 percent were in favor, and 67.79 percent were opposed.

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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.