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
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.
Governor Newsom slashed $7.3 million from his May revised
budget, which officials say was promised to Paradise Irrigation
District after the Camp Fire. … Losing this money could
jeopardize being able to maintain their daily operations, like
fixing leaks, customer service, and employee wages.
When the proposal for the Fallbrook Public Utility District and
the Rainbow Municipal Water District to detach from the San
Diego County Water Authority and annex to the Eastern Municipal
Water District is heard by San Diego County’s Local Agency
Formation Commission, a public vote will follow any LAFCO board
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s many proposed budget cuts include the
cancellation of a second year of backfill funding for the
Paradise Irrigation District, worth $7.3 million. … The
district lost 90 percent of its customers following the Camp
Fire and has been depending on the backfill funds while it
repairs damage to its system and slowly increases customers
Facing uncertain revenues in the year ahead, state officials
said they would prioritize programs aimed at improving air
quality in disadvantaged communities, providing safe and
affordable drinking water and improving forest health
and fire protection.
Rates will be reduced by 35 percent for sewer bills, 30 percent
for Hetch Hetchy public power utility bills, and 15 percent for
water bills for those who have a SFPUC residential account
under their name, have experienced income loss due to COVID-19
or the resulting shelter-in-place order, and a maximum income
under 200 percent of the area median income.
Democratic leaders in the U.S. House of
Representatives released the HEROES Act, the latest
proposed relief package to address the COVID-19 pandemic… The
proposal includes $1.5 billion in funding for water ratepayer
assistance to help struggling households pay their water and
sewer service bills. Also included in the legislation is $375
billion to be distributed to municipalities to cover revenue
shortfalls as a result of the pandemic, which may help
alleviate the strain on some clean water agencies.
The city [of Oxnard] is expecting an $8.7 million decrease in
general fund revenues for this fiscal year ending June 30. The
projection for revenue loss next year is $9 million, although
it could be as high as $12 million. Finance and Governance
Committee members are expected to hear about a plan to borrow
up to $30 million from the three utilities — water, wastewater
and solid waste… The loan would need to be repaid on a
10-year schedule with interest.
Fraudsters have been calling Pasadena Water and Power customers
lately, claiming to represent the city-owned utility,
threatening customers their power will be turned off if
immediate payments aren’t made, according to city officials.
Many of the cuts came from capital improvement projects,
which shed about $65 million since the prior version of the
proposed fiscal 2021 budget, roughly a 40% reduction. Projects
such as restoration work on reservoirs, pipelines and other
infrastructure are on the chopping block.
In a pandemic when hand-washing could be a matter of life or
death, everyone must have access to clean water as a public
health issue and a basic human right. But what if you can’t
afford your water bill?
A referendum challenging a rural northern California town’s
water rate hike rests on whether the California Supreme Court
considers it a tax or a fee. Since 1911, California’s
constitution has exempted “tax levies” from the people’s
referendum. It’s an exemption that Dunsmuir, a town of about
1,600 residents in Siskiyou County, is trying to apply to its
aging water system.
The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing the city of San Diego to make
millions of dollars worth of budget cuts. One project that is
not facing cuts is the city’s smart water meter program, or
advanced metering infrastructure. The Public Utilities
Department, which oversees the program, has instead asked to
nearly double the program’s budget.
The City of Lathrop assured residents impacted by the economic
downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that it would not turn
off municipal water to individual homes through the months of
March and April for non-payment. And it appears those
assurances will now run through at least the end of May as
public health officials and municipalities grapple with the
realities of the pandemic and the impacts to local communities.
The industry and its advocates … are backing a two-phase plan
to extend a lifeline to water utilities and customers who
cannot pay their bills during an economic crisis, and to invest
for the future. Step one in the plan is the provision of
emergency assistance to both groups. There is still a debate
about the size of an aid package for utilities and the most
efficient and effective way of helping customers. But $1.5
billion in customer assistance is a common starting point in
The water utility that serves Chico and Oroville said in a
press release that it was asking for the delay because of the
coronavirus pandemic. The company wants to postpone all rate
increases and says it is “committed to deferring other bill
increases during 2020.”
The mandated policy prohibits shutoffs for at least 60 days
following a delinquency and requires water providers to give
advanced written notice and make direct contact with the
residents before service can be discontinued. It also requires
water providers, such as cities, public utility districts and
community water systems provide for deferred payments,
alternate payment schedules, and an appeals process.
A new poll by the Value of Water Campaign released today shows
that 84 percent of American voters want state and federal
leaders to invest in water infrastructure. The near-unanimous
support amid the COVID-19 pandemic reveals that voters value
water and want elected officials to prioritize investing in
infrastructure — specifically, drinking water and wastewater
Metropolitan Water District, the water wholesaler that serves
26 local water agencies in the Southern California region,
voted for a two-year budget that will raise water rates during
the biggest economic downturn in California since the Great
A growing number of Napa residents are leaving their water
bills unpaid, a trend city officials say is a likely indicator
of the economic uncertainty sparked by the ongoing coronavirus
pandemic. … The number of unpaid bills has shot up, rising
more than three-fold and six-fold in the last two billing
cycles, respectively, city data shows.
This question has taken on greater urgency in the era of the
coronavirus, when every neighbor touching the crosswalk signal,
or coughing on their way to the grocery store, is a potential
source of a fatal disease. To effectively flatten the curve,
it’s not enough to wash your own hands. We need everyone in the
community to do the same.
From the safety of their coronavirus shelters, the water
warriors of the Monterey Peninsula carry on the fight, and so
can you. … The environmental merits of removing the local
water system from private ownership and placing it under the
control of a government agency will be discussed in a virtual
public scoping meeting on April 21 at 5pm, via Zoom video
From the safety of their coronavirus shelters, the water
warriors of the Monterey Peninsula carry on the fight, and so
can you. … The environmental merits of removing the local
water system from private ownership and placing it under the
control of a government agency will be discussed in a virtual
public scoping meeting on April 21 at 5pm, via Zoom video
The number of supporters in Congress for utility assistance in
the next Covid-19 package continues to grow. One hundred ten
Democratic members of the House and Senate sent a letter today
to congressional leaders, requesting financial aid to utilities
and the people they serve during the coronavirus pandemic.
Most municipalities that have been maintaining aging
infrastructure for decades simply absorb the effort and costs
required to repair water main pipeline breaks when they occur.
Seldom do many municipalities make the efforts required to
track the costs and evaluate the cost benefit of proactively
rehabilitating the existing pipe line versus continuing to
repair emergency breaks.
Legislation introduced in the House on Friday would offer
states and tribes $1.5 billion to aid low-income households
with their water bills. There is a catch. To receive aid,
states and tribes must agree not to turn off water to homes
during the coronavirus public health emergency. They must also
agree to reconnect water service to homes in which water was
previously turned off.
Even though many utilities will not be shutting off water in
the coming weeks and months, household water bills will
continue to arrive. Residents are expected to pay those bills
after the emergency orders are lifted. That could pose problems
down the road for both individuals and utilities, argues Greg
Pierce, associate director of the UCLA Luskin Center for
Republican and Democratic congressional leaders were urged
Tuesday to include at least $12.5 billion in stimulus funds to
help people struggling to pay their water and sewer bills.
Congress is preparing another stimulus package that will
include billions of dollars to improve the nation’s aging water
and sewer infrastructure.
Governments at all levels are beginning to review water access
policies and inequalities that inhibit public and personal
efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus. Those policies
include restoring water service to homes where water had been
disconnected, suspending new water shutoffs, and installing
public handwashing stations to serve residents who are
Around two-fifths of the country rely on water utilities which
have not suspended the policy of shutoffs for non-payment,
despite public health warnings that good hygiene – specifically
frequent hand washing – is crucial to preventing spread of the
highly contagious virus, according to data analysed by Food and
Water Watch and the Guardian…. So far, the moratoriums on
shutoffs include 12 statewide orders, which apply to private
and public water providers, issued by the governors of
California, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan,
Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio and
The advice is simple and universal: Washing your hands with
soap and water is one of the most effective ways to stop the
spread of the coronavirus. But for millions of people across
the country, that’s not simple at all: They lack running water
in their houses due to service shutoffs prompted by overdue
The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority signed off on an
ordinance and related resolution officially requiring all major
pumpers needing metering on all groundwater extraction
facilities and pumps during a board meeting on Thursday.
Two weeks ago, as the coronavirus was spreading across the
U.S., Shanna Yazzie loaded the bed of her gray Toyota Tacoma
pickup truck with as many empty, five-gallon containers as she
had in her house and drove 25 miles on unpaved desert roads
looking for a place to fill them with water. This is a routine
for Yazzie, 38, one of the 2 million Americans who live without
access to running water.
The water agencies that serve the Fallbrook and Rainbow areas
of North County have officially filed applications to detach
from the San Diego County Water Authority, an unprecedented
move with potential financial implications for almost all water
customers in the county.
Both water companies that serve Salinas will halt all water
shutoffs during the state of emergency brought on by the
COVID-19 pandemic. Salinas has a large population of
hospitality workers that commute to the Monterey Peninsula
daily; the hospitality industry has been one of the hardest-hit
by the coronavirus as health officials urge “social distancing”
and the closure of large gatherings. As such, many residents
may find themselves short on funds as the pandemic wears on.
A $3 billion package of water projects recommended for approval
by the Southern Nevada Water Authority this month could raise
average residential bills by $10, while providing a boost to
the Apex Industrial Park in North Las Vegas.
California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 is
now “the law of the land (state)” and as such there will be
restricted agricultural groundwater pumping throughout the San
The San Diego County Water Authority‘s board voted to largely
end a decade-long legal battle with the Metropolitan Water
District of Southern California after securing over $350
million in concessions.
Officials in the city of Tehachapi approved new water and sewer
fees — in case new housing developments start moving in — to
support the construction of infrastructure that can’t quite
support projected growth in the next 10 years.
For years, city auditors warned elected leaders that San
Diego’s stormwater needs were being dramatically underfunded,
leaving the city vulnerable to lawsuits and hefty fines from
state regulators. Still, the mayor’s office has yet to take on
the political challenge of securing enough new funding to fix
the situation, something that would likely require a
voter-approved tax hike.
Cal Am’s request calls for raising water rates to increase
revenue by about $8.4 million in the Monterey district to cover
new capital investment, increased labor costs, and higher
administrative and operations expenses, driving the “average”
local customer’s bill from about $89.40 to about $105.78 over
the three-year period from 2021-2023.
The changes, mandated by Senate Bill 998, mean customers will
have at least 60 days to settle their bill before becoming
delinquent. The changes also require water utilities to provide
written notice at least seven days before service
discontinuation, which must contain information on how to avoid
an interruption of service as well as procedures for contesting
or appealing a bill.
Dr. Kurt Schwabe … stated that from 2007 to 2015 water prices
increased an average of 45% while income has been stagnant or
decreased by an average of 6%. This affects a household’s
discretionary income, the disposable income left over after
subtracting the cost of water and other essential needs. As
water prices rise and discretionary income falls below zero,
households are forced to make tradeoffs for some of their
Landowners, politicians, legal experts and concerned citizens
packed the Agricultural Center Conference Room to weigh the
benefits and pitch solutions to problems within the two main
proposals, either a bond measure or a pay-as-you-go tax
increase. After hours of presentations and discussion, the Jan.
31 meeting came to no definitive conclusion on which option
would be best.
The approval came after a 3-2 vote. Mayor Adam McElvain
proposed to table to the plan and vote again next year. … The
public works staff says they need the added funding to maintain
infrastructure and keep up with inflationary costs. One council
member said Redding is still using some infrastructure
installed in the early 1900’s.
The Santa Monica City Council approved a water self-sufficiency
plan Tuesday that will double the price of water and wastewater
removal by 2024. The rate increases will finance about $42
million in infrastructure projects that will allow Santa Monica
to stop importing water from the Metropolitan Water District of
Southern California by 2023.
Two Italian-style restaurants have drawn generations of diners
to Occidental while serving pasta, pizza and soup — in recent
years under the burden of the steepest sewage treatment rates
in Sonoma County and among the highest in California. … There
could be some help coming from Graton, about 6 miles to the
east with an underutilized wastewater plant… But there’s a
The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has filed a second
lawsuit against the Coachella Valley Water District and Desert
Water Agency over groundwater. … In the new complaint filed
on Jan. 24, the tribe asserts that it and its members should
not have to pay a “replenishment assessment charge” for
groundwater production on land owned by the tribe and
individual tribal members.
New state-of-the-art water meters that will provide accurate,
real-time readings of how much water Lathrop’s residential
customers use are on the way. The Lathrop City Council approved
a consent calendar item that will allow city staff to purchase
the remaining 3,506 water meters in the city that have not yet
been updated – approving the expenditure of $436,760 and a
contingency of $43,676 to modernize the aging system.
San Francisco homeowner Carmen Hermida was suspicious when she
got a postcard in the mail this month bearing the logo of the
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission from a private
company selling “protection programs” for water and sewer lines
on their property.
For decades, California’s coastal aquifers have been plagued by
invading seawater, turning pristine wells into salty ruins. But
the state’s coastal water agencies now plan to get more
aggressive in holding back the invasion by injecting millions
of gallons of treated sewage and other purified wastewater deep
Utah first proposed building a 140-mile pipeline from Lake
Powell on the Utah-Arizona border more than a decade ago. The
plan, however, was waylaid by environmental and other reviews
during the Obama administration. … Reclamation signaled to
the state that it wants to move swiftly on the plan, in
recognition of how it was stalled at FERC…
The Santa Fe Irrigation District approved three percent water
rate increases for the next three years at a Jan. 16 hearing.
… The rate increases aim to help meet the district’s
objectives to ensure equity across customer classes, encourage
conservation and maintain financial stability as it faces
challenges such as the rising costs of imported water.
It was an evening of tense questioning and a lack of local
details on Wednesday, January 8 as the San Marino City Council
grilled representatives from the California American Water
(CAW) Company on why the city is facing a proposed increase of
water rates of 16.64 percent starting January 1, 2021.
In order to provide ongoing funding for Sebastopol’s water and
sewer system, the Sebastopol City Council unanimously approved
an increase to water and sewer rates at its Jan. 7 meeting. …
The average ratepayer’s bill is expected to increase by $3 or
$4 per month, according to Mayor Patrick Slayter.
On Jan. 11 homeowners, administrators and local officials broke
ground on the sewer project for the Larkfield neighborhoods,
which had been leveled by the 2017 fires. The project has been
a source of conversation and negotiation, as the homes had
previously been on individual septic systems.
The Bureau of Reclamation today released the Central Valley
Project Final Cost Allocation Study, which determines how to
distribute costs of the multipurpose CVP facilities to project
beneficiaries. … This final cost allocation study will
replace the 1975 interim allocation to reflect additional
project construction, as well as regulatory, operational, legal
and ecological changes that have taken place over the last half
Palmdale Water District customers will have more protections
before their water service may be shut off for neglecting to
pay their bills on time, following policy changes approved
Monday. The changes reflect the requirements of Senate Bill
998, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September 2018.
Because zone changes have the potential to impact many well
users, Valley Water conducted extensive stakeholder engagement
on the preliminary study recommendations. … The board of
directors agreed and directed our team to prepare the survey
description to modify the two existing zones, and create two
new zones in South County. The board will consider these
changes in a public hearing later this year.
Water rates are set to rise next year for at least some parts
of San Diego County, including Imperial Beach, Coronado and
some sections of San Diego served by the California American
Water Company. The rates are renegotiated every three years,
but it’s about an 18-month process to determine just how much
those rates will climb.
Without raising rates to make 3 percent more revenue each year
starting in 2020, Hi-Desert Water District would not have
enough revenue to recover expenses in the next five years. …
For residential customers who are in tier one (those who use
the least amount of water), rates would go from $3.65 per
hundred cubic feet in 2020, gradually up to $4.11 in fiscal
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has tentatively ruled that
the city of Long Beach’s practice of transferring surplus
revenue from water and sewer utilities to its general fund is
unconstitutional. … The practice has been carried out for
decades, but in recent years, it has faced challenges in two
separate lawsuits from residents.
Filed last week in Riverside County Superior Court, the
class-action lawsuit alleges that Riverside is violating state
Prop. 218 by overcharging ratepayers to generate excess water
profits for purposes unrelated to providing water.
Monterey Peninsula Water Management District officials have
agreed to move forward with detailed analysis and planning for
a potential public acquisition and ownership of California
American Water’s local water system. On Monday, the water
district board unanimously approved spending up to $1.24
million on work by a team of consultants to prepare the
district to make a formal offer for the Cal Am system…
Next year would mark a decade of lawsuits by the San Diego
County Water Authority challenging the Metropolitan Water
District of Southern California’s uniform rates set by our
Board of Directors after many public meetings and hearings. For
nearly my entire tenure on the board, SDCWA has been pursuing
litigation against Metropolitan. One of my goals as chairwoman
is to put this era behind us.
On Monday, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District
board is set to consider approving $1.24 million on consultants
to prepare for a potential vote by the summer on a resolution
of necessity to acquire Cal Am’s local system.
Back in the 1990’s, when water rates started to hurt growers,
the Valley Center Municipal Water District helped pioneered a
program that gave ag users a special rate in return for their
water being subject to interruption. … Recently the San Diego
County Water Authority introduced a permanent policy that can
trace its lineage directly to Valley Center’s efforts to
preserve its growers.
The recommended fee hike would have elevated the rate from a
monthly $30 per-acre foot pumped to $75/acre-foot, according to
IWVGA acting general manager Don Zdeba. It would turn the
tables on the IWVGA ending 2020 fiscal year with $465,000 in
the red to ending in the positive by $209,000.
The city mailed notices to Simi Valley property owners (not
renters) proposing raising sewer rates about 40% over the next
five years to pay for much-needed upgrades to the city’s sewer
system. The sewer treatment plant and many of the underground
pipes are nearly 50 years old. The plant must be upgraded and
many sections of pipe replaced.
Cities like Huron, with a population of 6,926 and a $22,802
median household income, are often too small to expand water
access projects that could lower utility rates. While cities
like Delano are too big to qualify for rural development
projects from the federal government. But a new proposal could
soon alleviate those pains.
The kiosks take city tap water – which must be clean enough to
meet state and federal quality standards – run it through a
filtration system that removes chemicals such as chlorine to
improve taste, then dispense it to customers at an 8,000% to
10,000% mark-up. Vended water is cheaper than individually
sealed, store-bought bottles, but many times more expensive
than tap water.
The Santa Fe Irrigation District is moving forward with a
proposed three-year rate plan that would raise total revenue
for the district by 3 percent per year over the next three
years, beginning early next year, through rate increases and
changes in the district’s rate structure.
When the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority technical
and policy advisory committees reviewed a draft sustainability
plan, it left many with questions and criticisms. The plan may
also leave uncertainty for the valley’s agricultural industry.
They face the brunt of the plan’s water sustainability
requirements when the plan is implemented…
Water rates have not increased in Newport Beach since 2014. If
approved, starting Jan. 1, water rates will increase 7.4% each
year until 2024. After 2024, the proposal calls for water rates
to rise by 2.5% each year until 2029. The average household …
can expect a $3.38 per month increase in its water bill for the
first year, according to a staff report.
According to a 111-page analysis by a group of financial
consultants and bankers released on Nov. 6, not only is a
buyout of the behemoth Cal Am feasible, it would also cause the
cost of water to drop significantly if the water utility was
replaced by a public agency.
It will cost Monterey Peninsula ratepayers about $574.5
million, all in, to acquire California American Water’s local
water system, but that cost can be covered in rate savings
under public ownership with some leftover to lower local
customers’ water bills.
A newly released study finds a public takeover of California
American Water’s local system is feasible. Voters ordered this
study with the approval of a local ballot measure, Measure J,
one year ago. The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District
released the study Wednesday.
About 27,000 California American Water customers in Thousand
Oaks, Newbury Park and Camarillo are getting credits on their
October and November bills averaging $41.27 a month, the
company says. The credits are being issued because the rate
hikes the California Public Utilities Commission approved for
the company earlier this year were less than what the company
The Oct. 28 meeting of the El Dorado Irrigation District Board
of Directors included an update on the effect of power outages
on the district and a legislative update with a focus on
protecting the area’s water rights.
The city will buy millions of gallons of “stranded,” excess
water and sewer capacity from manufacturing businesses that
those businesses had purchased when they hooked up to the
city’s water and sewer system over the years. … Then the city
will place that excess capacity in a “bank” and sell it at
discounted rates to biotech firms, breweries and other
water-dependent businesses looking to expand or open new local
In order to keep up with the state’s underground water recharge
laws, sooner or later, local water rates will likely need to
increase. That was the message local water management officials
gave in a joint presentation at the Oct. 21 Selma City Council.
Zone 7 Water Agency directors have voted 5-2 to raise the price
of agricultural water by 3%, a relatively minor hike that one
vineyard owner said is affordable. … The 3% bump was in stark
contrast to the 30% cost for 2020 recommended by staff, which
referred to a study by consultant Raftelis about actual costs
incurred by Zone 7.
Exorbitant water bills, earthquake-prone reservoir tanks, a
lack of public input in setting rates and a corporation from
Canada not operating transparently. These were just some of the
reasons that justify Apple Valley taking over its largest
supplier of water, Liberty Utilities, a lawyer for the town
argued on Thursday.
Activists and local government officials across Monterey County
have banded together to fight a proposed desalination plant
that could double the cost of water for some residents and
endanger an aquifer that serves low-income communities.
After years of negotiations, the Montecito Water District is
closing in on a deal to buy 1,430 acre-feet of water from the
City of Santa Barbara, every year for the next 50 years. …
The city would produce the extra supply at its $72 million
desalination plant, at a yearly cost to Montecito of $4.3
Alameda property owners are being asked whether they are
willing to pay more to maintain and upgrade the city’s aging
stormwater system. … The reason? The city’s stormwater fund
is running a $1 million annual deficit and the system needs
about $30 million in upgrades, including at its pipe stations,
some of which date to the 1940s…
Aging water treatment systems, failing pipes and a slew of
unregulated contaminants threaten to undermine water quality in
U.S. cities of all sizes. … Still, with only a handful of
exceptions, “water systems aren’t designed to focus on health,
they’re focused on cost-containment,” says Seth Siegel, whose
book “Troubled Water,” released this month, examines the
precarious state of water infrastructure in the U.S.
The Mesa Water District board took a step Thursday to reduce
the estimated cost of replacing its pipeline system. With newly
adopted methodology, district staff estimates the 100-year
replacement cost at $131 million — down from $200 million under
the former standards.
State and local audits of the embattled West Valley Water
District in Rialto have uncovered a slew of deficiencies,
including questionable hiring and promotion practices, no-bid
contracts, abuse of credit cards and work performed without
A Monterey County Superior Court judge has called a halt to
work on the California American Water desalination plant
project, at least temporarily, while a California Coastal
Commission appeal challenging the project’s source wells is
For the first time in five years, Tustin is looking at passing
along those increases to consumers through a rise in rates.
Early next year, the City Council will vote on a multi-year,
incremental rate hike. If council members approve the staff
proposal, rates almost immediately will increase 6% per year
for five years.
Western Municipal Water District, which provides water to
Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District and Rancho California
Water District in southwest Riverside County, won a court
challenge from two excessive water users to share their higher
costs with those who efficiently conserve their water usage and
save on their water bills.
The proposed water rates include a fixed meter charge per month
and a variable consumption charge per unit of water. The city
says most single family residences will see about a $15
increase in January of 2020. … The last rate increase was
approved by the city council five years ago, but he says a lot
has changed since then.
The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority rolled out
concepts for an administrative structure that could eventually
cement the new agency as an independent entity — should money
ever be found to fund them.
The Santa Fe Irrigation District board recommended moving
forward with a new five-tier rate structure for its proposed
three percent water rate increase. The board is expected to
make a final decision on the rates by January 2020 to ensure
the financial stability of the district and meet its objectives
of equity across customer classes and encouraging conservation.
A new article on UC Davis’s California Water Blog shines a
light on just how complicated water governance can be and why
it matters… For more, listen to this interview with Kristin
Dobbin, one of the article’s co-authors and a UC Davis Ph.D.
student studying regional water management and drinking water
disparities in California.
The Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency … discussed
reasons why the area will reduce pumping in the future to meet
its sustainability goals as it moves toward 2040. Cities can
expect considerable pumping fee increases per acre-feet of
water and can have far-reaching effects on the local economy.
The city council approved paying Zenner USA … $1.6 million to
purchase automatic metering infrastructure, water meters,
communications equipment and software and hardware at its Aug.
27 meeting. The meters themselves will be made in Banning. …
The city is in the process of converting from manual meter
reading to relying instead on automatic meter reading…
A quarter-cent sales tax raising $100 million annually for
water and wastewater projects will remain in place indefinitely
following a decision Tuesday by the Clark County Commission.
… The 6-1 vote removes a sunset clause that would have made
the tax expire in 2025.
As a high-level government auditor, Beth Kennedy has
investigated or reviewed the spending of many city of Los
Angeles departments without serious incident, she says. But
now, Kennedy … is alleging she was warned not to delve too
deeply into controversial contracts awarded by the Department
of Water of Power, according to a legal claim she filed against
the city last month.
Roughly 33,000 residents of foothill communities will see an
increase in their water bills beginning Sept. 1, when a pair of
recently approved rate hikes are set to go into effect. On
Tuesday, Crescenta Valley Water District board members voted
4-1 to go forward with a 7% increase in water rates and a 4%
hike in sewer rates.
While there’s no court action yet, the Water Authority is
gearing up for what in the water world amounts to a rare change
in relationship status. After decades buying water from the
Water Authority, Rainbow and Fallbrook want a divorce.
The City Council agreed to allow rate increases for California
Water Service customers of roughly 13 percent each of the next
three years. … For the average family paying $71.43 per month
on a water bill, the cost would increase by $9.31 the first
year, $9.25 the second year and $10.35 the third year, based on
a projection by Cal Water officials.
It could take two more years before the Monterey Peninsula
Water Management District is ready to consider a resolution of
necessity to go ahead with eminent domain proceedings aimed at
a forced acquisition of California American Water’s local water
Released on Friday, the 15-page plan authored by water district
general manager Dave Stoldt outlines a recommended approach to
meet the district’s formal policy of pursuing public control of
all “water production, storage and delivery assets and
infrastructure,” as established by voter-approved Measure J.
The City Council is split on how much to raise water rates over
the next five years to fund projects that will wean Santa
Monica off of imported water. … Bi-monthly water and
wastewater bills for single-family homes would increase by $23
on average under the lower rate structure and $36 under the
higher rate structure.
For five decades, PG&E paid for and operated the Colgate
Powerhouse in exchange for the revenue generated by the
hydroelectric generation. But now, instead of tens of millions
of dollars flowing out to the utility, that agreement has
expired and the revenue, potentially as much as $30 million per
year, is flowing back into the Yuba Water Agency.
There’s no law of nature nor of economics that says water must
be delivered by a government agency. Yet in California, nearly
every drop of flowing water is under the boot of a public
authority — local boards, state authorities and federal
Last December, the board voted not to adopt a proposal to raise
rates by an average of 3 percent over the three years, sending
the district back to work with its consultants to come up with
a different plan that would be best for ratepayers.
The Sacramento County Water Agency says customers have alerted
the agency to the scheme, in which the caller claims county
officials will shut off their water within 30 minutes if they
don’t make a payment, the county Department of Water Resources
said Tuesday in a news release.
For years, bottled water has served as one of the only
dependable options for consumption and sanitary needs, serving
as a simple way for communities to access affordable and
available water. Yet, a proposed bill in the California state
legislature, Assembly Bill 792, has the potential to impose a
de facto tax on bottled water, leading to significant jump in
cost, and making it unaffordable for many disadvantaged
A feasibility analysis of a potential public buyout of
California American Water’s local water system will be delayed
a few months. But the Monterey Peninsula Water Management
District will go ahead with a required written public ownership
Kevin Hunt, general manager for Central Basin Municipal Water
District, said his agency needs the $600,000-plus the fee will
raise to balance its $10 million budget. The water wholesaler
has significant money problems because of decreasing water
California American Water is seeking to raise its Monterey area
average customers’ bills by nearly 18 percent over a three-year
period from 2021-2023. … Under the proposal, the “average”
Cal Am customer would see their monthly rates increase from
about $89.40 to $105.42 over the three-year period.
The Groundwater Sustainability Agency board will submit a
sustainability plan to the Department of Water Resources in
2021 and begin to implement that plan in 2022-2024. The board
last week heard a presentation about funding options to pay for
the groundwater management plan — including fees, taxes or
assessments to customers — and specific projects to implement
San Diego plans to boost the city’s already thriving biotech
and craft beer industries by reducing their costs for sewer and
water service, which are typically high because those
businesses are water-dependent.
It will cost about $189.5 million to complete the proposed
Interlake Tunnel project and the state-required Lake San
Antonio dam repairs, according to a county Water Resources
Agency report to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday. And $162.5
million of that will have to be paid for by Salinas Valley
property owners through a special assessment as early as spring
The sewage processing agency that serves Menlo Park, San
Carlos, Belmont and Redwood City paid its former general
manager $875,000 as part of a severance agreement, according to
documents obtained by the Post. However, the circumstances
behind the departure of Daniel Child are about as murky as the
effluent that flows into the agency’s plant…
In a legal filing made Thursday, attorneys Brian Kabateck,
Anastasia Mazzella and Brian Hong argued that key areas that
had been previously overlooked could yield more than $50
million in additional refunds for customers — and that
ratepayers are probably owed even more because of other
Months after allegations the company over charged people for
decades, San Jose Water has reached a tentative settlement
agreement to refund customers nearly $2 million. … The
refunds would be issued as credits for customers depending on
their current service charges. According to the agreement,
refunds for low-income customers who get a discount on their
water bills would be increased to $25.
Garcetti’s announcement came as activists called for more
forceful action at the DWP, which has been reeling from a
scandal over the city’s response to a disastrous rollout of
customer billing software at the utility.
FBI agents fanned across the Los Angeles area on Monday,
serving search warrants at multiple government offices,
including the Department of Water and Power, as part of an
investigation into how the city responded to the disastrous
rollout of a new customer billing system.
A long-awaited Montecito Water District rate study, planned for
release this May, will not be finished until later this year,
officials said this week. The study can’t proceed until the
district finishes negotiating the terms of an agreement for
buying into Santa Barbara’s desalination plant.
After objections from the public and lengthy discussions,
Ramona Municipal Water District Board of Directors approved
four types of rate increases recommended by staff. … Water
rates have not been adjusted for three years.
When Gov. Gavin Newsom called for constructing and maintaining
delivery systems to get water to at-risk communities in his
State of the State address, he received widespread support. But
the fight over funding for the project got divisive – and fast.
Industry veteran Gloria Gray took the helm at the Metropolitan
Water District of Southern California. In this interview, Gray
shares how she plans to steer the largest water supplier in the
nation through changing political priorities and climate
conditions to continue safeguarding the future of California’s
The increase … amounts to an approximately 10.6 percent
increase in revenue for the company. … The request for the
increase will assist in funding system and infrastructure
improvements to help maintain high-quality water service. The
increase will renew and replace water treatment facilities,
pumps and pipelines.
Enjoy the days of long, endless hot showers while you may. …
Eventually all households will be required to stay within a 55
gallon per day per resident indoor water usage for showers,
baths, laundry and dishwashing.
Crescenta Valley Water District’s board of directors have
proposed rate increases for both its water and sewer rates. If
approved, customers could see their combined monthly bills
increase by about $7.
Community activist Dolores Huerta joined local leaders in East
Bakersfield to urge elected leaders Tuesday to vote in favor of
legislation they say will ensure safe drinking water for
communities in the valley. Specifically, Huerta urged the
legislature to support what’s being termed the Safe and
Affordable Drinking Water Fund. It would be financed by the tax
payers, estimated to be a one dollar per month tax increase on
every water bill in California.
The proposal is to increase both base and usage rates by
approximately 40% in the first year, and by about 70% of the
current rate by July of 2023. … The last set of rate
increases ended in 2016, yet system costs have been increasing
each year due to inflation and maintenance expenses associated
with an aging system…
The Huntington Beach City Council on Monday voted to increase
local water rates for the next five years, despite receiving
691 protest letters from residents. Under the plan taking
effect July 1, most single-family households will pay $53.03 a
month — 70 cents more than now — in the first year of five
annual rate increases.
On Tuesday, May 21, the Board of Directors of the Sonoma County
Water Agencyand the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved
a plan to offset a fee that is likely to be imposed on
groundwater users in the Santa Rosa Plain… Under the plan,
the County and Sonoma Water would contribute up to $240,000
annually for three years to the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater
The Moulton Niguel Water District has agreed to pay $4.8
million to settle a 3-year dispute with South Orange County
Wastewater Authority, which processes a portion of the
district’s wastewater, according to a settlement agreement
released Monday. … Moulton Niguel stopped paying capital
improvement invoices for the plant in 2016, saying it would
sign past-due checks only as part of a process to terminate its
contract to use the plant.
As the city considers changes to its wastewater rates, its
consultant, Nebraska-based HDR Engineering Inc., suggests users
that send “high strength” wastewater to the city’s treatment
system pay more because of the additional treatment costs.
Domestic septic tank/portable restroom discharges, industrial
laundry services and alcohol beverage manufacturers such as
breweries, wineries and distilleries could be affected…
Atascadero residents will likely be paying more for wastewater
services starting in just a few months. The last time
wastewater rates were increased in Atascadero, President Bill
Clinton began began his first term in office and Seinfeld was
one of the most watched shows on television.
Like everyone else in Santa Clara Valley who uses wells,
farmers will see their groundwater production charges go up 6.8
percent this year. But unlike the others, they’ll continue to
receive substantial subsidies. In approving the increased
charges for well users, the Santa Clara Valley Water District
board left intact for at least two years the current structure
that allows farmers to pay only 6 percent of the amount
residents and businesses pay.
A Senate budget subcommittee rejected Gov. Gavin Newsom’s water
tax plan on Wednesday, instead recommending finding $150
million elsewhere to finance a safe and affordable drinking
water fund. … The subcommittee’s decision to lock in funds
for future budget cycles could eliminate the challenge of
securing votes to pass another tax.
The district is considering a five-year series of rates
increases — up to 5% per year for sewer and up to 6% per year
for water. … As district staff have explained during public
meetings, much of STPUD’s infrastructure is outdated and in
need of repair or replacement. Additionally, more than 10% of
the STPUD’s water system lacks adequate water capacity to fight
a major fire.
The new rates would increase the Distribution and Customer
Charge, for all customers, by 5.7%, to generate annual revenue
of $3.4 million, effective August 1, 2019. The new rates would
also increase the Distribution and Customer Charge for all
customers in July 2020 by 5.8%, to generate annual revenue of
$3.7 million; and also increase the Commodity Charge,
increasing the system average by 0.7%, to generate annual
revenue of $0.5 million in July 2020.
We have learned over the last six years that the water need for
Santa Cruz to meet its own annual demand is 1.1 billion gallons
less than thought in 2014, when the two districts were pursuing
the desalination plant.
Coastal Commission staff on Monday reiterated to The Herald
that Cal Am can appeal the city’s denial under the state’s
Coastal Act because the city charges an appeal fee. They called
the city’s own rules “internally inconsistent” and noted the
Coastal Act’s regulations supercede local ones.
The water that irrigates Santa Clara Valley’s last farms comes
dirt cheap for growers who pump it out of the ground. They pay
just a fraction — 6 percent — of the amount residents and
businesses in the valley must pony up for their well water. The
rest of the cost for farmers’ water is subsidized, mostly from
revenue the Santa Clara Valley Water District receives through
A Q&A with Valerie Olson, assistant professor, and Emily
Brooks, post-doctoral researcher — both environmental
anthropologists at UC Irvine. They have a new project aimed at
getting a better understanding of how communities, particularly
the underserved, think about and use their water, and how the
agencies that provide water can better serve them.
Gena Jacob figures she may come out ahead, in at least one
respect, in the wake of the Tubbs fire that leveled her
Larkfield home. … Through a program created by Sonoma Water
and offered to 143 homeowners in Larkfield Estates, they plan
to connect to a new sewer line — freeing them from the
constraints of their aging septic system — with a financing
package that takes some of the sting out of the cost.
The district is proposing to raise rates by about 4 percent
annually over the next four years and to impose a new annual
capital maintenance fee. The fee, which would be based on
customers’ meter size, would switch the district from borrowing
money to a cash-based system for funding repairs and
replacement of pipes, pumps, water tanks and treatment plants.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.