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 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 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 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 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.

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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.

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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 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 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 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 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 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

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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

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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

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.

Aquafornia news KPCC Southern California Public Radio

Los Angeles DWP board OKs plan to start fining major water users up to $40k (with audio)

The board for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power passed an ordinance Wednesday setting up a mechanism to fine major water users who don’t cut back their consumption.

Aquafornia news KPBS Public Broadcasting

‘H2O’ Program aims to ease burden of water bills for the poor

Four months after increasing water rates, the San Diego City Council on Tuesday approved a program to help poor water customers pay their bills.

Aquafornia news The Orange County Register

Orange County Water District wants desalinated water; Irvine Ranch doesn’t. Who will win?

Citing potentially higher costs that would be passed on to customers, Orange County’s largest provider of water to homes and businesses is intensifying its opposition to a key supplier’s plan to buy desalinated water from a proposed $1 billion Huntington Beach plant.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Westlands Water District will pay big fine to settle SEC civil charges

The giant Westlands Water District will pay $125,000 to settle Securities and Exchange Commission civil charges that it misled investors about its financial health, officials said Wednesday.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California’s largest water district, accused of misleading investors, settles with the SEC

A sprawling Central Valley water district run by some of the state’s wealthiest growers papered over its drought-related financial struggles and misled investors, federal regulators said Wednesday.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

California Supreme Court clears way for user fee on Cal Am bills

More than five years after the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District was barred from collecting a user fee on California American Water bills to pay for Carmel River mitigation and other work, the California State Supreme Court ruled the state Public Utilities Commission had no authority over the fee.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles DWP board approves water rate hike to fix aging pipes

The board that oversees the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power on Tuesday approved the utility’s plan to increase water rates about 4.7% each year over the next five years. … Utility officials have said they need the approximately $330 million in additional revenue to repair aging water pipes and other infrastructure.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California ballot measure would broaden conservation water rates

A coalition of California local governments and water agencies Monday proposed a ballot measure to allow local governments to set water rates they believe encourage water conservation.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Proposed ballot measure could re-establish tiered water pricing

A coalition of groups representing cities, counties and water agencies filed a proposed ballot measure Monday that would allow water providers to reestablish so-called tiered pricing as a means of encouraging conservation.

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger (LLP)

Legal Commentary: California Appellate Court holds groundwater pumping fees are property-related fees subject to Prop. 218

In Great Oaks Water Company v. Santa Clara Valley Water District, originally issued March 26, the Sixth District Court of Appeal found that the water district’s groundwater pumping fees are property-related fees subject to Proposition 218. … The Great Oaks opinion, however, reached a different conclusion than the Second District Court of Appeal reached in City of San Buenaventura v. United Water Conservation District, issued March 17.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Worker pay only small part of water rate hikes

Some critics of sharp water rate hikes San Diego approved last week complained that much of the new revenue would be devoted to employee pay, but city officials say that’s not true.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

In California, stingy water users are fined in drought, while the rich soak

Four years into the worst drought in California’s recorded history, the contrast between the strict enforcement on Californians struggling to conserve and the unchecked profligacy in places like Bel Air has unleashed anger and indignation — among both the recipients of the fines, who feel helpless to avoid them, and other Californians who see the biggest water hogs getting off scot-free.

Aquafornia news San Diego Union Tribune

Water rates to spike 16 percent in San Diego

Water bills will soar 16 percent in San Diego next year under rate increases the City Council approved 7-2 on Tuesday after nearly five hours of spirited testimony at City Hall.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply, Covering the Crisis

Blog: No relief for low-income homes as water rates soar

The drought is driving up water rates all over California as utilities scramble to cover revenue losses and pay for additional supplies. There will be no relief for low-income residents, who are caught in a legal conundrum that prevents most water agencies from discounting their rates.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles DWP general manager continues pitch for hikes in water and power rates

Eighteen months ago, Marcie Edwards became the first woman to lead the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the country’s largest publicly-owned utility, and it wouldn’t have happened without a stint as a “pit critter.”

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Secret water sale complaints spill into Oakdale Irrigation board meeting

Irrigation leaders agreed to refund drought surcharges paid by farmers this year, an action that was overshadowed Tuesday by a dispute over a recently unveiled sale of water to outsiders.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Daily News

Los Angeles DWP, other utilities to raise water rates because of drought

Throughout California, consumers have conserved during this four-year drought and purchased less water from their utilities, leaving some water agencies operating in the red and drawing down reserves.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Roseville proposes water rate increases, pricing change (with audio)

The City of Roseville has proposed raising water rates. The city will hold the first of two community meetings on the proposal Tuesday night. 

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin Municipal Water District sets date for rate increase hearing

The Marin Municipal Water District has set a public hearing as it looks to raise rates to deal with reduced water consumption, the drought and land management responsibilities. It is also looking at establishing a “drought surcharge” option.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Restrictions on water rates get newfound opposition from Gov. Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown is picking a fight over a two-decade-old law that can make it difficult to increase water rates, raising the possibility of a new battle over the issue at the ballot box next year.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Helix water board votes for 5-year rate hike

At a nearly four-hour public hearing attended by more than 150 customers at the [Helix Water] district’s University Avenue headquarters, the board approved charging more to its nearly 270,000 customers through 2019-20.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)

Blog: How should we price water? (video)

We interviewed Ken Baerenklau, a UC Riverside economist and adjunct fellow with the PPIC Water Policy Center, on the role of pricing to mitigate scarcity during droughts, and the need for fair and economically sensible prices.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: After years of low water rates, customers can expect to pay more

With all the questions surrounding the nation’s water supplies and systems, one thing seems certain: Customers will be paying more to keep their taps flowing.

Aquafornia news KQED Public Radio for Northern California

As Californians save water, districts lose money (with audio)

Water agencies save some costs when they deliver less water; for example, they need fewer chemicals to treat water and need to buy less water itself. But the majority of other costs are fixed, including running treatment plants, paying off infrastructure and paying workers’ salaries.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Overcharged Los Angeles DWP customers would get tens of millions back under settlement

It was hailed as a modern makeover of an aging, inefficient way to bill customers. Instead, the new system at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power became a nightmare, spewing out thousands of faulty bills, some wildly inflated.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Calif. Supreme Court won’t budge on water rates

In a setback to California water regulators’ conservation efforts, the state Supreme Court has kept intact a ruling that makes it harder for municipalities to impose tiered pricing to discourage heavy water use.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Calif. Supreme Court says tiered water rate ruling will remain published, keeping precedent for future legal battles

San Juan Capistrano’s messy history with tiered water rates will be a permanent part of California case law.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

High court hands setback to water conservation fight

Rejecting the pleas of California officials worried about water conservation, the state Supreme Court on Wednesday left intact a lower court ruling that makes it tougher for cities and water districts to impose punishing higher rates on water wasters.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

San Diego water district wins ruling in MWD pricing dispute

San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow found that the MWD had charged San Diego too much for the use of its aqueduct to bring water from the Colorado River under San Diego’s deal to buy water from the Imperial Irrigation District.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Water Authority wins rate case

The San Diego County Water Authority won two sweeping legal victories Wednesday in a mammoth rate case against Southern California’s largest water wholesaler.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles DWP gears up to sell skeptical customers on its proposed rate hikes

Since it was created more than 100 years ago, the Department of Water and Power has been a titan of Los Angeles, controlling not just the city’s access to vital resources but billions of dollars in revenue that has helped gain influence at City Hall.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles, pushing big water rate increases, seeks 18% more from typical users

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials are seeking an increase in rates over the next five years in a bid to boost water conservation amid California’s drought and expand repairs of crumbling water mains and electricity infrastructure.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California agency considers water prices to save in drought

California Gov. Jerry Brown called for an overhaul in water pricing as part of his sweeping drought order, and regulators on Wednesday will discuss how to best do that in light of legal questions over rates designed to encourage conservation. 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Highlights: Californians paying more for water in drought

Some California residents are finding themselves in an ironic bind where they have to pay more while using less water in the drought.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: California water rates rise as cities lose money in drought

Saving water doesn’t always mean saving money in parched California. 

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

San Juan Capistrano to pay $4.1 million to refund customers for illegal water rates

San Juan Capistrano has set aside $4.1 million to refund residents and businesses who paid for water under steep tiers recently deemed illegal by an appellate court panel.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: California court, despite drought, questions popular water pricing tool

It was not the sort of tremor that Californians prepare for with flashlights, evacuation plans, and Hollywood scripts. But a state appeals court ruling on April 20 hit the state’s water utilities with earth-shaking force.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: State attorney general challenges ruling against tiered water rates

The California attorney general’s office has asked the state Supreme Court to depublish a controversial ruling that it argues will impede the state’s ability to encourage conservation by charging people higher rates when they use excessive amounts of water.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin Municipal Water District faces lawsuit over tiered rate structure

A lawsuit has been filed against the Marin Municipal Water District alleging its tiered rates are in violation of state law.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

EBMUD approves higher water rates to reduce use and buy extra supplies

As East Bay water officials on Tuesday were about to increase rates and impose the toughest penalties yet against water wasters, Raven Brown had one concern. She’s held off from bathing her dog, which has fleas, for fear her water bill would go up and she might be fined.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

24 percent water rate hike approved for East Bay

East Bay residents will see an average 24 percent hike in their water bills, starting next month, after the East Bay Municipal Utility District on Tuesday approved a bump in rates, largely to make up for revenue lost during the drought.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Contra Costa Water District raises rates to prompt conservation

Water rates are going up immediately for 208,000 central Contra Costa County residents in response to a state push to slash water use. 

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Despite drought, Desert Water Agency not raising rates for water wasters

With mandatory 36 percent cutbacks looming, the Desert Water Agency has no plans to change the low, flat rate it charges for water.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Victorious San Juan Capistrano water users want a refund

The homeowner and securities specialist paid huge water bills under the steep tiers recently declared illegal by the 4th District Court of Appeal, and he recently filed a claim in Orange County Superior Court to try to recoup the thousands he once thought were gone for good.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Water Replenishment District of Southern California awash in steep legal fees

Facing a lawsuit from cities over its pumping rates, the Water Replenishment District of Southern California called in the big guns. … Two weeks ago, the WRD settled the case, agreeing to pay the cities that sued it $9.1 million.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: John Perry, San Juan Capistrano’s water watcher

It started with a few ticked-off residents of the Orange County town of San Juan Capistrano. The city was charging them too much for water, they argued, in violation of the California Constitution, courtesy of Proposition 218, a taxpayer-revolt law passed in 1996.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California water districts scramble to deal with ruling on rate tiers

During the last major drought in the early 1990s, Irvine pioneered a different approach for calculating water bills for customers.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: Oh, dry up — being a good Californian in bad times

A California court of appeal ruled that San Juan Capistrano can’t, under the state constitution, charge more for water than it costs the city to provide the water.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Editorial: Water ruling on Prop 218 can be overcome

The court held that since Proposition 218 prohibits charging more for a service than it costs to provide, the policy of charging higher rates to users of more water was unconstitutional. … But a careful reading offers an opening to continue conservation incentives if agencies carefully justify them.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Brown administration to stick with strict conservation targets, despite court ruling

Gov. Jerry Brown is sticking to his statewide mandatory water conservation targets, his administration said Tuesday, even as a new appeals court ruling limits the ability of cities and water districts to hit people with punishing rates to encourage them to save water.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: California court ruling could limit drought fighting tools

In a ruling that Gov. Jerry Brown says puts a “straitjacket” on local governments trying to fight the severe statewide drought, an appeals court has found that an Orange County city’s tiered water rates are unconstitutional. … It comes shortly after Brown issued drought orders that call for rates that encourage people to save water, including tiered pricing.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Brown calls tiered-water ruling ‘a straitjacket’ for conservation efforts

An appellate court Monday struck down a Southern California city’s method of charging water users based on a tiered-rate system, a potential setback to municipalities across a parched state laboring to curtail water consumption under Gov. Jerry Brown’s recent order.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Appeals court throws out San Juan Capistrano’s tiered water-use rates

An appeals court decision handed down Monday has thrown into question a major component of California’s drought conservation efforts.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Court case could be blow for California drought fight

An appellate court ruling due by next week could put a glitch in plans to reach Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of slashing urban water use by 25% statewide.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Higher water rates on tap as utilities cover losses from drought

Water departments across California, including dozens in the Bay Area, are now looking to raise rates — in many cases by double digits — to shore up revenues as customers use less water during dry times and water sales plummet.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Decision expected soon on San Juan Capistrano lawsuit that questions tiered water rates

Utility agencies across California are awaiting a ruling from the 4th District Court of Appeal regarding the legality of tiered rates in San Juan Capistrano. 

Aquafornia news U-T San Diego

Lawsuit could lower costs, bring more water to San Diego

With vast amounts of water and tens of millions of dollars at stake, the second phase of a long and bitter lawsuit between San Diego and Los Angeles water agencies started on Monday.

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger LLP (BB&K)

Legal Commentary: Two California appellate court rulings demonstrate groundwater pumping fees are in the ‘eye of the beholder’

One Holds that the Fee is Subject to Prop. 26 and Another that it is a Property-Related Fee Subject to Prop. 218 — Two California Appellate Court decisions handed down this month address whether or not a local water agency’s groundwater pumping charges are property-related fees, and reach different conclusions. The distinction is important because of the restrictions imposed for property-related fees under Proposition 218 — as well as the exemptions for fees that are considered taxes under Proposition 26.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Steep water rate increases eyed for EBMUD customers

The worsening drought is spurring the East Bay’s largest water supplier to consider slapping a 25 percent surcharge on customers’ bills — on top of an 8 percent general rate increase.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Busy Modesto Irrigation District agenda includes water rate hike

Modesto-area farmers on Tuesday should learn how much water prices will go up and whether they’ll be able to buy or sell water shares to help cope with the drought.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Run Los Angeles DWP more like a business and less like a bureaucracy

A state audit released last week details how Los Angeles Department of Water and Power managers ignored and downplayed repeated warnings that a new customer billing system — the lifeline of the utility and how it collects its revenue — was not ready and would not work as promised.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Judge: Marina Coast Water District on hook for millions in failed desal project

A San Francisco judge Friday dealt a major blow to ratepayers in Marina and Fort Ord, voiding several contracts related to a failed regional desalination plant.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

Blog: Is your home water-wise? A new scorecard will have the answer

Is your house built to use water efficiently? … The non-profit organization known as RESNET – the Residential Energy Services Network – has just announced its intention to create an easy to understand numeric rating system for the water efficiency of homes this year. RESNET has already developed the highly successful Home Energy Rating System (HERS) for assigning a score to the energy efficiency of homes …

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Big water rate hike plan reduced by Santa Clara Valley Water District

Facing a public outcry and some skepticism from their board of directors, the top staff of the Silicon Valley’s largest drinking water provider on Tuesday suggested reducing a proposed drought-related water rate hike this year from 31 percent to 19 percent.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

DWP billing system errors add $245 million to uncollected debt

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power failed to collect more than $245 million in consumer payments due to the botched rollout of a new billing system, a state audit has found.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Taps may run dry in western Fresno County town after residents vote to oppose rate hike

Residents of this tiny western Fresno County town recently told Fresno County supervisors that they don’t want to pay higher bills for water service to their tiny community — even if it means having their water shut off. If they don’t agree to pay more, Cantua Creek residents will stop getting water as early as mid-May. 

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Big water rate hikes considered by Bay Area agencies

During the first three years of drought, Bay Area residents have endured brown lawns, shorter showers and dirty cars. Now, as the crisis stretches into the fourth year, they are about to feel it in their wallets.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno to apply for $165 million in state loans for big water project

Fresno City Hall and its big water project are returning to their favorite lender — the state of California.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Daily News

Your Los Angeles DWP bill will be climbing soon because of the dry winter

The typical Los Angeles Department of Water and Power residential customer will see a $2.61 monthly billing increase by July, as this winter’s low snow-pack means the agency has to buy more expensive imported water.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Santa Cruz looks at water conservation, costs

[Santa Cruz] City officials kicked off an effort on Tuesday to encourage water users to conserve water, going beyond the planned static water rate increases planned for the coming five years. 

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Water and eminent domain: a volatile mix

A Southern California city has launched eminent domain proceedings to take over the private water agency that has served the community for more than 80 years – an unusual move, even in California, where fights over water are common.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno council votes 6-1 to approve $429 million water project

The Fresno City Council approved Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s historic water project Thursday night, assuring a secure supply of the liquid gold well into the 21st century. The 6-1 vote was actually for a five-year rate plan.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Herald

Grievances with Cal Am, Monterey County deal over failed desal plant are aired

The meandering circus that evolved from Monterey County’s failed desalination plant efforts made another stop Wednesday at a hearing before state utility regulators.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Los Angeles agency hits the top in arrogance

The Department of Motor Vehicles may be the state agency that Californians love to hate – undeservedly, for the most part. However, for sheer cussedness and arrogance, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is in a class by itself.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Los Angeles DWP needs both transparency and investment to fix its problems

Last week, an 89-year-old pipe burst in the Hollywood Hills, releasing at least 100,000 gallons of water that flooded the streets, cracked sidewalks and submerged cars. … Also last week, city officials were scrambling to save an agreement between the city and the politically powerful leader of the DWP employee union.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno water-rate battle heads to a key vote

The Fresno City Council is slated Thursday to vote on higher water rates.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

State promises $195 million loan for Fresno water project

Fresno’s ambitious water project has qualified for a state loan big enough to make a sizable dent in the typical home’s monthly bill.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Note-taking dispute reportedly put audit of Los Angeles DWP trusts on hold

A long-awaited examination of how two controversial Los Angeles Department of Water and Power nonprofit trusts spent millions of ratepayer dollars stalled over a concern that auditors were taking too many notes, according to City Hall sources.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Lack of cooperation halts audit of DWP trusts, city says

An audit heralded last year by L.A. city leaders as a breakthrough in efforts to determine what two controversial Department of Water and Power nonprofit trusts did with tens of millions of ratepayer dollars has ground to a halt, The Times has learned.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin hopes subsidy program brings her water plan home

Mayor Ashley Swearengin has on tap a $1 million program to help low-income Fresnans pay their water bills. Whether that is enough to turn her proposed upgrade to Fresno’s water system into reality figures to be City Hall’s hottest political question this month.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno’s water protest vote falls short, putting issue in council’s hands

Fresno’s historic Proposition 218 protest vote turned into an eye-opener, but failed in the end to kill Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s water infrastructure plan.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

County supervisors tie support for Fresno mayor’s water plan to growth talks

Fresno County supervisors turned a routine review of Fresno City Hall’s water rates into a remarkable look at the role of trust in politics.

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