Topic: Water Rates

Overview

Water Rates

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

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

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diegans could soon pay much more for water, now that a long-delayed rate analysis is moving forward

San Diego officials say they will complete a long-delayed comprehensive analysis of city water rates this year that could lead to sharp increases to pay for major infrastructure projects such as the Pure Water sewage purification system now under construction. The last time San Diego completed such an analysis in 2015, city officials voted to raise water rates by 40 percent over a four-year period. City water customers already face a 3 percent rate hike in January to cover rising imported water costs. That increase, which the City Council approved this week, was prompted by the County Water Authority voting in June to increase what it charges the city for imported water.

Aquafornia news CBS 8 - San Diego

San Diego overcharged water customers $79 million since 2014

Months after a judge ruled the City of San Diego is overcharging some water customers, the city has yet to pay up, or make changes to its rates. Attorneys say the delay is costing taxpayers millions in penalty fees. They filed the case back in 2017, saying San Diego was violating a portion of the California constitution, which states governments that provide services are not allowed to charge more for those services than it costs them to deliver. … Specifically, the suit alleged San Diego had been overcharging single family residential customers in tiers 3 and 4, which are those who use more water than the average customer.

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

Regional San recognized again as utility of the future today

For a third time, the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (Regional San) has been recognized as a Utility of the Future Today by a partnership of water sector organizations. The Utility of the Future Today Recognition Program was launched in 2016 by a partnership of water sector organizations, including the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the Water Environment Federation, the Water Research Foundation, and the WateReuse Association. Input was also provided from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The goal of the program is to guide utilities of all sizes toward smarter, more efficient operations and resource recovery.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Challenger for seat on powerful Kern water board “withdraws,” at least in spirit

Would-be challenger Eric Averett said he is “withdrawing” from the race for a seat on the powerful Kern County Water Agency board of directors. His name will still appear on the ballot, however. Averett said he couldn’t get his name off the ballot as the deadline to do so had already passed when he decided not want to run against Incumbent Phil Cerro. … With the drought and other issues, Averett said, the agency board needs to maintain “continuity” and he didn’t want an election battle to become a distraction. Three other agency board members are running unopposed. Those include Laura Cattani, Ted Page and Charles Wulff.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Opinion: Merge water districts in OC? One loathes the idea, the other loves it

In this alternate universe, one water agency sees black while the other sees white. One sees good while the other sees bad. One says yes while the other says no. And none of it would matter much — except that everyone who showers and drinks and flushes the toilet is paying for it. … That grand jury, you may recall, told these two water giants in our compact little county to get over themselves, relinquish their pricey fiefdoms and form a single, unified, regional, county-level water authority to finally speak with — and this is the grand jury’s flourish — “One Voice.”
-Written by Orange County Register columnist Teri Sforza.

Aquafornia news ABC 10 - Sacramento

Grizzly Flats fire victims argue base rate fees are illegal

There’s an uneasy quiet that fills the air as heat rises from the winding asphalt running through the leveled neighborhoods of Grizzly Flats…. [Rick] Hall’s home was among more than 600 destroyed by the Caldor Fire summer of 2021. … With his home wiped out, you can imagine his surprise when he received this bill in the mail for $68.97. That’s the existing monthly base rate charge for water services through the Grizzly Flats Community Services District or GFSCDD. To be specific, this charge is not for water volume, but for a water service connection. That’s where this dispute lies. 

Aquafornia news Times of San Diego

Up to $2,000 available for San Diego County residents struggling to pay water bills

The San Diego County Water Authority has helped secure financial aid for low-income water customers in the region to cover overdue residential water and wastewater bills. The authority is partnering with the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee on Anti-Poverty of San Diego County (MAAC) and Campesinos Unidos, Inc. for outreach and education to make residents who are struggling aware of the funding. The Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) is federally funded and offers one-time payments to cover outstanding residential water and/or wastewater bills. The federal government allocated $116 million to California to help qualified households with their water bills.

Related article: 

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.