Topic: Water Rates


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 Pasadena Now

Pasadena Water and Power wants to participate in two assistance programs that will help PWP customers delinquent with utility bills

Here’s another piece of good news for Pasadena Water and Power (PWP) customers who may be falling behind on their water and electric bill payments due to COVID-19: PWP is seeking a resolution from the City Council to participate in two new utility assistance programs specifically aimed at customers who have been delinquent with their bills. 

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Politics report: Water fights

If you haven’t read MacKenzie Elmer’s piece about steep water rate increases projected by the San Diego County Water Authority, we recommend you correct that. You can click here and it will take you there but don’t forget to come back. We also explained it thoroughly on the podcast. In the piece, Elmer took us through how because we’re using less water we will have to pay more.

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: 120-day statute of limitations for new or increased California water and sewer rates

A challenge to new or increased California water or sewer rates must be brought within 120 days pursuant to Senate Bill 323, which was signed into law this week. SB 323 applies to rates for both retail and wholesale water and sewer fees adopted or increased after January 1, 2022. How will this impact local agencies across the state?

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Water rates are going up

If there’s anything to take away from MacKenzie Elmer’s latest story on the cost of water in drought-stricken Southern California, it’s that it isn’t getting cheaper any time soon.  The San Diego County Water Authority, which controls most of the region’s water resources from the drought-stressed Colorado River, is forecasting hefty price hikes as high as 10 percent beginning 2023. That’s partly because the agency has a lot of debt to pay off. It doesn’t want to take out more loans, so it’d like to raise cash over the next decade instead — and that cash comes from ratepayers.

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Aquafornia news Brown and Caldwell

Q&A with Prabhakar Somavarapu of Regional San and SASD

Sacramento County Regional Sanitation District (Regional San) and Sacramento Area Sewer District (SASD) serve a 400-square mile service area, providing public infrastructure and municipal services to protect and enrich the daily lives of more than 1.6 million Sacramento County residents. Over his career, Prabhakar Somavarapu, former general manager of both districts, oversaw one of the largest infrastructure projects in Sacramento’s history, the $2 billion EchoWater Project…

Aquafornia news Patch, Livermore

Livermore: Rebate increases for drought-resistant landscaping

The rebate for Livermore Municipal Water customers who install drought-resistant landscaping has increased. Owners of single-family homes are eligible to receive up to $2,000 for the conversion, according to the city. Owners of multi-family and commercial properties are eligible to get up to $6,000 back. The rebate will cover up to 50 percent of the cost.

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Aquafornia news Fox 5 San Diego

Poway water rates: Customers could pay more for water under new proposal

Residents and businesses in Poway soon could be paying more on their water bills. Poway City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to set a public hearing on a proposed four-year rate increase for water, recycled water and wastewater rates. It comes as the city grapples with how to deal with the future of water for its residents, challenged by rising costs to import water and the need to pay into capital improvement projects.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Priced out and shut off: Tackling water affordability

Right now, Congress is debating needed investments in our water system decades in the making. While the Senate’s compromise bill passed earlier this month includes billions for lead pipe replacement and helping communities prepare for future drought and floods, the bill falls short of ensuring all families can turn their tap on and access safe, affordable water. … Some utilities are stepping up to help (both San Francisco Public Utilities and East Bay Municipal Utilities District have customer assistance programs) …
-Written by Michael McAfee, president and CEO of PolicyLink, a national research and action institute focused on advancing racial and economic equity, and Susana De Anda, co-founder and executive director of the Community Water Center, a nonprofit environmental justice organization based in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin Municipal Water District scraps monthly billing idea

The Marin Municipal Water District has decided against switching from bimonthly to monthly billing cycles as a way to promote water conservation. At a meeting on Thursday, the district’s board decided the nearly $1.2 million in added costs yearly that would result from the change would be better spent on a larger effort to install wireless meters for all of its customers. … The idea to switch to monthly billing is not new, having been proposed and rejected in 2017 because of the costs. 

Aquafornia news City News Group, Inc.

‘Valley District’ lowers property tax rate for constituents

After twenty years at or above the current level, the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District Board of Directors voted to lower its property tax rate. Valley District, a wholesale water provider and State Water Contractor, is required to set a property tax rate each fiscal year for the debt service fund on its State Water Contract.

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Aquafornia news Barron's

Water is getting more expensive. That’s an opportunity

A drought in California has led to a spike in the state’s water prices, nearly doubling the value of futures contracts for the essential commodity this year and creating opportunities in water-related investments. As of Aug. 24, the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index, which represents the weighted average price of water-rights transactions across five major markets in California and is published weekly, has climbed by roughly 87% year to date to $923.54 per one-acre foot.

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

Water rates up 43% over last decade

Bluefield Research has recently published its latest annual benchmark study of residential water races across U.S. cities. The new analysis shows water rate growth currently outpacing other household utility services (e.g., power, gas) at an average of 4.2 percent per year. As such, the combined water & wastewater bill for a typical U.S. household has swelled to 43.2 percent from 2012 to 2021, an indicator of the water sector’s growing financial burden.

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

South Valley communities on verge of running out of water press Newsom to halt 18% rate hike

As if California’s drought situation could get no worse, water agencies and poor communities in the southern San Joaquin Valley are confronting a new reality. While they receive no water from the State Water Project, they’re being hit with rate hikes of up to 18 percent from last year by California water officials. In a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, state water users in the old Tulare Lake bed  – including water agencies that serve some of the state’s poorest communities – called for the Department of Water Resources to halt its planned hike on water rates.

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Aquafornia news Patch

Benicia water bills could rise by 6.5%, wastewater bills by 3%

Benicia residents could see their water and wastewater bills increase following a recommendation by city staff. City council would have to ultimately approve it. On Aug. 11, 2021, staff at the City of Benicia publicly released their recommendations on the revised draft water and wastewater utility rate study. Of the four possible funding scenarios for each utility, staff is recommending city council select Water Scenario 3 and Wastewater Scenario 3 and is further recommending that Council consider a public hearing date in November.

Aquafornia news NBC7 San Diego

Are water and wastewater bills about to rise?

Water and wastewater bills could be going up as soon as next year. While water rates have increased in the past few years, it’s been longer since wastewater rates changed. … Drinking water rates did increase about two years ago, and under this proposal, they will likely be going up another 3%. The biggest change will be for wastewater charges.

Aquafornia news Village News

Opinion: Getting the facts straight when it comes to changing water suppliers

We’d like to set the record straight in response to the recent guest commentary in the Village News titled: “San Diego County must not suffer if Fallbrook and Rainbow leave Water Authority” by San Diego County Water Authority board members Mel Katz and Keith Lewinger. First, it is the ratepayers of Fallbrook and Rainbow who have been suffering – over the past 10 years, they have overpaid nearly $50 million to the Water Authority compared to the benefits they’ve received.
-Written by Jennifer DeMeo, board president of the Fallbrook Public Utility District, and Hayden Hamilton, board president of the Rainbow Municipal Water District.

Aquafornia news Press Banner

SLVWD will shift approach for nonpayment

Even after the pandemic subsides, the San Lorenzo Valley Water District (SLVWD) will not turn off customer’s water supply for nonpayment. SLVWD Manager Rick Rogers in an interview said the board has “a strong position that we should not be turning people’s water off for nonpayment. It’s a fundamental right, but we also have to pay our bills.” SLVWD, Rogers said, will no longer issue a 48-hour tag for nonpayment. Instead, the district will, once a year, move any outstanding bills onto residents’ property tax bills.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Helix Water District moving forward with water shutoffs

Helix Water District, which provides water for much of East County, will reinstate late fees starting in August and renew water shutoffs on Oct. 1. The utility’s governing board voted 4-1 on Wednesday to support staff’s decision to bring back late fees and shutoffs for nonpayment. Customers suffering financial hardship had been given a grace period during the pandemic. The district currently has 546 accounts in arrears for a total of more than $470,000. Helix officials say that 475 of those accounts are residential.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News

Lawsuit: San Diego excess water fees

A class action lawsuit was filed against San Diego and its public utilities department on Wednesday, alleging that residential and commercial customers were overcharged in fees to make up for shortfalls from industrial wastewater dischargers.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Padre Dam water district looking into tax liens for delinquent customers

The Padre Dam Municipal Water District Board of Directors, which last week reinstated late fees and water shutoffs, plans to put tax liens on 73 delinquent accounts. The item is on the consent calendar of the board’s meeting on Wednesday. The district, which had given customers a grace period during the pandemic, said it is owed more than $280,000. … One [agricultural] customer owes $190,858.

Aquafornia news ABC 10 San Diego

San Diego homeowner: Removing a water meter in Mira Mesa could cost thousands

Jet Martin wanted to stop service to a water meter to save money for the homeowners in his Mira Mesa HOA. It turns out the city said doing that will cost thousands of dollars. … Martin’s HOA consists of 15 homes. There used to be sprinklers that watered a once-grassy area that sits between two houses. It was a space where residents in the HOA could sit, eat, and enjoy the outdoors. They stopped watering the grass a couple of years ago, but still pay a base fee to the city of nearly $30 per month.

Aquafornia news Coachella Valley Water District

News release: CVWD opposes proposed IID fee

Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) went on record today during Imperial Irrigation District’s (IID) Board of Directors meeting to oppose IID’s proposed fee to be charged to IID’s Coachella Valley rate payers.  CVWD is IID’s largest single power customer. IID and CVWD are party to the 1934 Compromise Agreement, and under that agreement, IID is obligated to charge Coachella Valley rate payers (including CVWD) the same rates as IID charges to rate payers within its district in the Imperial Valley. 

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

IID pounds pavement to head off bill

Imperial Irrigation District officials are making a last-ditch effort to amend or kill proposed legislation that could fundamentally transform the governing board of the agency, Assembly Bill 1021. At the heart of the issue is how the bill could force the district — which provides water and power to virtually all of Imperial County, and electricity to part of the Coachella Valley — to add a seat representing energy ratepayers from a small section of southeastern Riverside County to the IID Board of Directors. 

Aquafornia news The Center Square

Fitch: low river levels likely to increase Arizona water bills

The expected water cuts from the Colorado River as a result of the Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) will likely mean higher water utility rates, according to Fitch Ratings. The U.S. Congress passed the DCP in 2019 to protect water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead which provide water to Colorado River basin states. Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, and Mexico entered into the DCP, which mandates how water cuts will occur when the lakes drop to certain levels, called tiers.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Opinion: SB 222 would establish CA Water Affordability Assistance Fund

California is answering the call to keep the tap open to millions of people who have fallen behind on their water bill payments through a recent $1 billion investment from Gov. Gavin Newsom. The timely assistance comes amid serious economic fallout from the pandemic that caused record unemployment and left 1.6 million households drowning in water debt. At the same time, some small water systems are struggling to keep the water flowing due to lost income from unpaid bills. The governor’s plan addresses both problems, for now. But what happens next year?
-Written by Sen. Bill Dodd (Napa) and Sen. Lena Gonzalez (Long Beach).

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Aquafornia news NBC Bay Area

California drought – Here’s a look at Bay Area water restrictions

Nearly all of the Bay Area is under an exceptional drought and some local water agencies are now imposing restrictions in an effort to conserve. NBC Bay Area has reached out to water agencies for information on how they plan to move forward during the drought. Bookmark this page as we will be updating it once we get more information. Visit our drought page for more coverage.

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Aquafornia news The Santa Barbara Independent

Opinion: Santa Barbara water follies – The city needs to change course

In the weekly newsletter sent out by the City of Santa Barbara on June 14, we are given a peek at how the water policy followed by the city over the past decade has worked out. The city provides us with a chart showing that consumers of water in Santa Barbara pay substantially more for their water than do Goleta, Carpinteria or Montecito at all but the very least levels of consumption. Remarkably, huge estates in Montecito irrigate their grounds at 68 percent of the cost of urban homesteads in our city!
-Written by Glen Mowrer, contributor to the Santa Barbara Independent. 

Aquafornia news Association Of California Water Agencies

News release: ACWA-Sponsored SB 323 advances to Assembly floor

ACWA-sponsored SB 323 passed out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and is headed to the Assembly floor. SB 323, authored by Senator Anna Caballero (D–Salinas), would provide financial stability for public agencies by creating a 120-day statute of limitations for challenges to new water and sewer rates. This would provide public agency water and sewer service rates the same protections already afforded to fees and charges that fund other essential government services. 

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Opinion: Israel’s water conservative policies far exceed California’s

When Donald Trump referred to the COVID pandemic as a “plague,” he was implying that it was an act of God that couldn’t be blamed on the government. We are now told that the acute water shortage in California is the result of a “drought” that has, once again, lead to water restrictions. This biblical term obscures the responsibility that our local governments bear for this crisis. Countries facing far harsher climates and much scarcer water supply, like Israel, have adopted straightforward policies to avoid such crises. We should learn from their example.
-Written by Ron E. Hassner, the Helen Diller Family chair in Israel Studies and the co-director of the Helen Diller Institute for Israel Studies at U.C. Berkeley.

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Aquafornia news Sen. Bill Dodd

News Release: Sen. Dodd’s Water Access & Equity Bill Clears Committee

Legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would help hundreds of thousands of Californians who have fallen behind on their water bills and are at risk of being disconnected from water service cleared a key committee on Wednesday. … Sen. Dodd’s legislation comes as the State Water Resources Control Board heard results of a survey that found water debt in California climbed to about $1 billion. The survey estimated 12% of California households are behind on their water bills with an average debt of $500 per household. 

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Water prices going up for 1.4 million in the East Bay

Higher bills will soon be on the way for the roughly 1.4 million people who get their water from the East Bay Municipal Utility District, but at least for now they won’t be required to cut their water use despite the drought. Beginning July 1, the agency will charge customers 4% more for both water and sewer services. And a year later, on July 1, 2022, the rate will climb another 4%. The district’s board of directors unanimously approved the rate increases at its meeting Tuesday as part of the $2.25 billion budget it adopted for the next two fiscal years.

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Aquafornia news California Land Use and Development

Blog: Water district rate increases violated Proposition 218

A court of appeal invalidated a water district’s adopted rate increases, concluding that the district failed to meet its burden under Proposition 218 of establishing that the increases did not exceed the cost of providing the water service. … Following a hearing, the Board of Directors of the Florin County Water District voted to increase its water rates by 50 percent. Data presented by staff at the hearing showed that revenues would exceed expenditures in each of the four years following the rate increase, culminating in a net profit of almost $1.4 million in the fourth year.

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

Blog: Low-income water assistance program formally launched

The White House last week announced the official launch of the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) housed at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). This program is the first of its kind designed to provide funding to help low-income households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic pay their water and wastewater bills. According to the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the available federal funds, which total $1.138 billion, were secured as part of the federal COVID-19 relief spending in December 2020 and March 2021.

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Aquafornia news KPBS

Rising water costs prompt two North County communities to look for alternatives

A water war is heating up in the North County. Rainbow Municipal Water District and Fallbrook Public Utility District want to leave the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) because of rising costs. They want to join the Eastern Municipal Water District in Riverside County, a move that could save their customers up to $5 million a year.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Controversial sewer hike heads to Monterey One Water board amid objections

A proposal that would more than double the cost of sewer service in the region over the next five years and has drawn the rage of the area’s hospitality and business interests heads to a board for final approval on June 7. The board of directors for Monterey One Water, the regional wastewater management service, will vote on the proposed schedule of rate increases. If approved, ratepayers will see a 47-percent jump in their sewage bills after July 1. By 2025, rates would be 122-percent higher than they are today. … [T]he increase is needed to maintain and update the utility’s $750 million infrastructure assets, some of which are more than 30 years old.

Aquafornia news The Desert Review

IID Board takes action to protect water rights and address Coachella Valley concerns

The Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors adopted a resolution Tuesday, June 1, to better serve IID’s Coachella Valley energy customers and better protect Imperial Valley’s water rights, according to a press release. The Board’s resolution seeks to provide a local alternative to AB 1021 by Assemblyman Chad Mayes (I-Yucca Valley) that would create a number of adverse consequences for the region, if passed into law, including giving Coachella Valley energy ratepayers a say over IID’s water rights and policy in Imperial Valley.

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Aquafornia news Office of Sen. Bill Dodd

News release: Senate passes Sen. Dodd’s water access & equity bill

The state Senate today approved legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, to help hundreds of thousands of Californians who have fallen behind on their water bills and are at risk of being disconnected from water service. … Sen. Dodd’s legislation comes as the State Water Resources Control Board heard results of a survey that found water debt in California climbed to about $1 billion. The survey estimated 12% of California households are behind on their water bills with an average debt of $500 per household. 

Aquafornia news Brown and Caldwell

News release: California Urban Water Agencies appoints new executive director

The California Urban Water Agencies (CUWA) today announces Brown and Caldwell’s Wendy Broley will assume the role of executive director effective July 1, replacing Cindy Paulson after 10 years in the role. CUWA is a non-profit corporation of 11 major urban water agencies responsible for serving drinking water to over two-thirds of California’s population. 

Aquafornia news Lake County News

Senate passes Sen. Dodd’s water access and equity bill

Sen. Dodd’s legislation comes as the State Water Resources Control Board heard results of a survey that found water debt in California climbed to about $1 billion. The survey estimated 12% of California households are behind on their water bills with an average debt of $500 per household. Many of those people are on the brink of service disconnection. Senate Bill 222 would prevent shut-offs by establishing a water assistance fund for low-income rate payers experiencing economic hardship.

Aquafornia news SCV Signal

Opinion: Balancing the costs of water

At SCV Water, we are committed to responsible water stewardship and providing service at a reasonable cost. As part of that responsibility, we regularly consider our rates, the cost of operations and the future health of the agency.  As such, SCV Water is considering new rates over the next five years to ensure revenue keeps pace with rising expenses. That isn’t the only reason the agency is considering changes, however.
-Written by Matt Stone, general manager of SCV Water.

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

RCSD increasing water, sewer rates to aid solvency

Rosamond Community Services District’s residential and commercial customers will see their water and sewer rates increase after the District’s governing Board approved rate adjustments earlier this month as part of the District’s efforts to remain fiscally solvent. The average district residential customer will see a monthly water bill increase of $6.11. This average represents about 70% of the District’s residential customer base. The average commercial 1 customer will see a monthly water bill increase of $20.90, while the average commercial 2 customer will see an increase of $2.56.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Paying for California’s water system

The state’s extensive water system supplies cities and farms; prevents pollution of lakes, rivers, and coastlines; protects against floods; and supports freshwater ecosystems and the forested headwaters that are a major source of water supply. Many local, state, and federal agencies oversee this system and raise revenues from a variety of sources. California spends about $37 billion annually, with the lion’s share (84%) coming from local water bills and taxes. The balance comes from state (13%) and federal (3%) contributions.

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Central Valley communities lost water in last drought. Are small water systems ready this time?

Poplar is one of hundreds of small community water systems in the central San Joaquin Valley facing severe challenges in the task of providing residents with safe and reliable drinking water, particularly during drought. Some 360,000 people are at risk, according to a drought-risk analysis by DWR. Water systems were caught off guard in the last drought, leaving tens of thousands of people at risk of imminent water shortages.

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Aquafornia news Triplicate

Crescent City looking at water, sewer rates

The Crescent City Council is moving forward with a study on water and sewer rates, which may result in increased rates for residents. After receiving a grant from the California State Water Resources Control Board totaling about $80,000, the city is pressing on with the overdue rate studies. Typically, rate studies for water and sewer are completed every five years, however, the last water rate study came in 2013 and the last update to wastewater came in 2015, said City Manager Eric Wier. Wier said these projects are the first-step in maintaining the overall health of both systems.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Lack of water efficiency funding undercuts fight against drought

With the current drought already impacting over 90 million people in the U.S. and with water scarcity likely to get worse because of population growth and climate change, there is an urgent need to invest in water efficiency. This threat goes well beyond the arid west. Thirty-three states have been hit by drought since 2000, including ones located in the Great Plains, Midwest, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. And scientists warn that most of the country is on pace to experience water shortages if we don’t manage water better.
-Written by Ron Burke, president and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, and Mary Ann Dickinson, founding president and CEO of AWE. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Money for water debt may be available but can California get it to those in need?

As pandemic restrictions begin to ease in California, a race is on to get money in place to help with massive and growing household water debt before the statewide moratorium on shutoffs for non-payment is lifted. Some observers are looking at June 15, when Gov. Newsom said he’ll lift the state’s mask mandate, as a potential date for release from other COVID-19 mandates, including the water shutoff moratorium. That’s also the deadline for lawmakers to pass the state budget, in which Newsom recently injected $1 billion to help pay overdue water bills.

Aquafornia news Victorville Daily Press

A closer look: Why Liberty Utilities’ arguments were favored in Apple Valley’s eminent domain lawsuit

When lawyers for the Town of Apple Valley first presented their arguments in a lawsuit for taking over the water system owned by Liberty Utilities, they leveled a serious charge. According to Kendall MacVey, an attorney with Best Best & Krieger, the firm’s expert who had conducted a three-day inspection of the system discovered nine out of 10 water reservoir tanks to be “seismically unsafe.” Some were perched above homes with no concrete foundation, MacVey said in an October 2019 court hearing.

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: Landscape water conservation

As California enters another dry summer, the supply and use of water are once again becoming topics of immediate concern. Statewide, agriculture dominates use of developed water — meaning water which is moved through pipes at some point.  In urban areas, about half of developed water is used outdoors, and of that fraction about half is used for landscape irrigation. That half is an important fraction in Los Angeles and other urban areas. Across the state, homeowners may be interested in saving money on water bills, improving plant health, limiting weeds, and being ecologically responsible while still having an attractive, low-maintenance landscape.

Aquafornia news Victorville Daily Press

Judge makes preliminary ruling against Apple Valley taking over water system

A San Bernardino Superior Court judge has made a ruling against the Town of Apple Valley in its attempt to take over its largest supplier of water. In a tentative decision issued Friday, Judge Donald Alvarez found that Liberty Utilities had “disproved” the town’s arguments that its acquisition of the company’s water system would be in the public’s interest and a necessity. … The town filed its eminent domain lawsuit in January 2016 when the system was owned by Ranchos Water Company in response to what they said was a public outcry over rising water rates.

Aquafornia news Food & Water Watch

Blog: Newsom expands California drought emergency, commits $5.1 billion to water infrastructure and debt relief

Governor Gavin Newsom announced an expansion of the drought emergency to 41 of the state’s 58 counties, dedicating $5.1 billion to boost water infrastructure and an additional $1 billion to paying off nearly the entirety of Californian household water debt. Yet, while the governor’s plan includes $150 million for groundwater cleanup and water recycling measures, it does nothing to speed up the process to bring overdrafted water basins into full and sustainable operation. The deadline is currently 2040 for critically overdrafted basins and 2042 for remaining high and medium priority basins.

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

East Bay Municipal Utility District proposes rate hike

Customers of the East Bay Muncipal Utility District may have to dig deeper into their pockets to keep the taps and faucets flowing as the utility proposes increasing rates. The utility is seeking to raise water and wastewater rates each by 4% in the fiscal year starting July I, and an additional 4% starting July 1, 2022. The potential move comes as EBMUD reviews and adjusts its budget, which happens every two years. General Manager Clifford Chan will present a proposed budget for utility for the next two years to the EBMUD board of directors on Tuesday.

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Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

United Water Conservation District reaches $1M settlement with Ventura

A water district locked in a long-running legal battle over residential rates with the city of Ventura recently agreed to pay $1 million, but the fight does not appear to be over. City Attorney Gregory Diaz said Friday he expected the United Water Conservation District to exercise its option to appeal. Ventura has filed lawsuits every year against the water district since the agency implemented increased charges in 2011-12. This settlement is for fiscal year 2019-20. The district charged residential customers three times more than agricultural customers for groundwater, and the city challenged its methodology. 

Aquafornia news

Kern farmers make do under drought conditions

Kern County ag producers are making changes big and small — from redeveloping entire orchards to fine-tuning their irrigation systems — as they try to adjust to worsening drought conditions across the Central Valley. Strategies vary depending on access to water and ability to shift irrigation to different fields. Some landowners are trying to hold onto as much water as they can in case prices rise later in the year.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency board finalizes water rate increases

Water customers with the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency can expect rate increases to kick in over the next five years, after board members voted in late April to approve the fees. The PVWMA serves coastal growers and farmers in south Santa Cruz and north Monterey counties through 21 miles of water pipelines running near Highway 1. The water, which is a blend of recycled water, groundwater and Harkins Slough Recovery well water, supplements farmer’s on-site agricultural wells. 

Aquafornia news Ag Net West

State Senate lays out $3.4 billion drought relief package

California Senators have unveiled a $3.4 billion drought relief package to address the hardships created by ongoing dry conditions. The Senate Budget Plan on Drought, Safe Drinking Water, Water Supply Reliability, and Ratepayer Assistance would be the single largest investment to address drought challenges in California. During the Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Subcommittee 2 on Resources, Environmental Protection and Energy hearing, the proposal was passed by a 4-0 vote. The proposal offers a comprehensive approach to drought relief, with funding designated for water supply projects, research, and water-use efficiency projects.

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Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Opinion: How San Diego County’s water supply investments protect our economy and quality of life from drought

Increasingly ominous signs suggest that we are entering another multiyear drought in California. The State Water Project recently reduced projected water deliveries for 2021 from 10 percent of requested supplies to 5 percent, and on April 21, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a regional drought emergency in the Russian River watershed in Northern California. But it’s a different story in San Diego County.

-Written by Gary Croucher, chair of the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Monday Top of the Scroll: Pandemic lockdown exposes the vulnerability some Californians face keeping up with water bills

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.

Aquafornia news Mission Local

Blog: Putting Dennis Herrera atop the PUC is weird. But San Francisco is a weird town.

It’s been a week since Mayor London Breed tapped City Attorney Dennis Herrera to lead the Public Utilities Commission, a massive, billion-dollar entity providing San Franciscans — and, in fact, millions of nearby locals — with water and/or power. It’s been a week, and nobody seems to be saying it, so we’ll say it: This is weird. It would be weird if the mayor transferred a hypothetical general manager of the Public Utilities Commission — with a background touching on engineering and water and wastewater and sewage treatment and hydroelectric power generation and distribution — into leading the City Attorney’s office. The reverse is weird, too. 

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.

Aquafornia news Senator Bill Dodd

News release: Sen. Dodd’s Water Access & Equity Bills Advance

Legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, to help ensure low-income and pandemic-strapped Californians struggling to make water bill payments do not lose access to water service cleared a key committee hurdle today. … Sen. Dodd has proposed two bills to ensure access and affordability. Senate Bill 222 establishes a water assistance fund for low-income rate payers experiencing economic hardship. And SB 223 expands protections and protocols for customers who are faced with having their water shutoff because of an inability to pay their bills. They were approved today by the Senate Environmental Quality committee with overwhelming support.

Aquafornia news VC Star

Ojai Valley water district to fill vacant board seat. Here’s how

Casitas Municipal Water District has set a May 3 deadline to apply for a vacant seat on its board. Former board member Angelo Spandrio resigned last month. Now, the rest of the board members plan to appoint someone to fill the seat for the remainder of his four-year term, set to expire in December 2022. Spandrio, of Ojai, announced his decision at a March 10 board meeting, saying he and his wife plan to move to Arizona.

Aquafornia news Village News

Rainbow MWD places $1.3M in reserves

The San Diego County Water Authority was successful in its rate lawsuit against the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and the SDCWA provided a check to the Rainbow Municipal Water District for Rainbow’s share of the settlement. On March 23, the Rainbow board voted 5-0 to place the money into the district’s reserves rather than to attempt to provide refunds to each individual ratepayer.

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Alameda County Water District names next general manager

The Alameda County Water District board has promoted Ed Stevenson to serve as the district’s new general manager. The district, which provides water to roughly 350,000 homes in Fremont, Newark and Union City, announced that  Stevenson, a 24-year district employee, will take over after current general manager Robert Shaver retires on July 1 following 30 years of service. 

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Aquafornia news The Mercury News

‘A scary scenario’: Water bills in San Jose headed for costly, decade-long spike starting this summer

Residents across San Jose can expect to see their water bills increase in the coming months no matter what company they get their water from — a trend that could continue year after year for the next decade. Santa Clara Valley Water District, the region’s wholesale water provider, plans to raise its rates by up to 9.6% each year for the next eight years, followed by an 8.7% jump the following two years. The monthly rate increases would equate to an approximate $4.50 to $5.10 increase per month for customers, according to the water district.

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Aquafornia news Jacksonville Journal-Courier

Opinion: Why Wall Street investors’ trading California water futures is nothing to fear – and unlikely to work anyway

Water is one of the world’s most vital resources. So is there reason to freak out now that profit-hungry hedge funds and other investors can trade it like a barrel of oil or shares of Apple? That’s exactly what CME Group recently did in California when it launched the world’s first futures market for water in December 2020. Put simply, a futures market lets people place bets on the future price of water. 
-Written by Ellen Bruno, of University of California, Berkeley and Heidi Schweizer, of North Carolina State University.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Southern California water agency looking to buy water during drought

With California in the throes of a second year of drought conditions, the mega-water agency of Southern California served notice Tuesday that it’s prepared to spend up to $44 million to buy water from Northern California to shore up its supplies. The board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves 19 million urban residents, authorized its staff to begin negotiating deals with water agencies north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where supplies are generally more plentiful.

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Aquafornia news Forbes

Blog: Southern California water price jumps 48% in 3 weeks as rainy season disappoints

Californians received a double dose of not so happy water news last month; cutbacks were made to water allocations and a key water price index surged higher. … The state’s Department of Water Resources has wasted no time in sounding alarm bells; officials have already announced 50 percent cutbacks from December 2020’s projected water allotments to State Water Project allocations for the 2021 water year. California residents were warned “to plan for the impacts of limited water supplies this summer for agriculture as well as urban and rural water users.”

Aquafornia news Sonoma West

Water rates heading back to council on Wednesday

The theme of the April 14 meeting of the Cloverdale City Council is seemingly water — the council will be viewing a presentation on its updated water and sewer rate study and giving direction on whether or not to proceed to a public hearing with new rates, and will also be discussing whether or not it wants to join the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership. 

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Markets, water availability prove key in land values

Despite market unknowns created by the pandemic and lower commodity prices, California agricultural land values remained largely stable, an indication buyers have confidence in the long-term land market in the state: This was a key takeaway from a virtual business conference held by the California Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. The conference also discussed impacts of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act on California land values. Even though record supplies of the state’s highest-value crops led to lower prices for farmers last year, appraisers said the softer prices also helped move those products. 

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

News release: ACWA-Sponsored SB 323 passes Committee hearing

ACWA-sponsored SB 323 (Caballero) passed out of the Senate Government and Finance Committee on March 25, following a hearing in which ACWA staff and members testified in support….The bill would improve financial stability for public agencies by creating a 120-day statute of limitations for legal challenges to water and sewer service rates. It comes as water and wastewater agencies have faced increased litigation from ratepayers over whether agency rates comply with Proposition 218 and other existing laws.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Helix, Padre Dam Municipal water districts use lawsuit win to help customers

Two East County water agencies plan to reduce future water rates by using millions of dollars they received from the County Water Authority as part of a legal settlement. The Water Authority announced a plan Feb. 25 to distribute $44.4 million to its 24-member agencies — including the Helix Water District and Padre Dam Municipal Water District — after receiving a check for that amount from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. A San Francisco Superior Court ruled in favor of the Water Authority in January in two lawsuits against Metro challenging rates and charges. The money is for legal damages and interest from the decade-long rate cases. 

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Blog: ACWA weighs in on state water affordability legislation

ACWA and its member agencies care greatly about water affordability and recognize the centrality of this issue during these uniquely challenging times. ACWA is advocating in Washington, D.C. (already with some success) and in Sacramento for federal and state funding to help public water systems and treatment works cover customer arrearages accrued during the pandemic. This funding is needed quickly — through immediate action — as opposed to through the legislative process for long-term policy bills.

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Aquafornia news Press Telegram

Bill to create a Southern LA County water watchdog puts agencies on edge

A proposal to create a watchdog for South Los Angeles County’s dozens of disjointed and struggling water systems has stirred fear among public agencies and companies further down the pipeline that they could be the target of hostile takeovers. AB 1195, introduced by Assemblywoman Christina Garcia, would establish the Southern Los Angeles County Regional Water Agency and grant it authority to assist failing water systems with aging infrastructure, or to take control if a system is no longer able to provide affordable, clean drinking water.

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: COVID-19 relief package provides substantial aid to states, counties and cities

President Biden signed into law a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, the American Rescue Plan of 2021, aimed to provide financial relief to Americans and incentives to stimulate the economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest package … provides $500 million for low-income water and wastewater grants. Funds will be allotted to states and tribes based on percentage of households with income less than 150 percent of the federal poverty line.

Aquafornia news UCLA Luskin

Blog: California households owe $1 billion in water bills, highlighting affordability crisis

For many Californians, water bills are piling up at unprecedented rates during the pandemic, exacerbating water affordability issues that disproportionately impact low-income residents and communities of color. A recent survey by the California State Water Resources Board, which was supported by research from the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, shows the extent of water bill debt accumulation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Households owe a combined $1 billion in unpaid bills, which has increased substantially since the pandemic. The report finds that roughly 12% of Californians have overdue payments on their water bills. 

Aquafornia news Patch

How much will your San Jose water bill be in 2021?

Driven by maintenance costs and supply price increases, higher water bills could be coming to San Jose residents as soon as July—despite pandemic-related hardships and resident pushback. … Santa Clara Valley Water District, the wholesale water provider in the county, could raise rates by 9.6%, which translates to about a $4.50 increase per month to customers. The company’s directors will vote on the proposed increases in May and rate hikes would take effect July 1.

Aquafornia news The King City Rustler

Cal Water’s King City District donates $37,000 in community support

California Water Service’s King City District donated more than $37,000 to local community organizations in 2020 as part of its ongoing commitment to improving the quality of life in the communities it serves. … In addition, to help alleviate some of the financial strain for customers who lost their jobs or were otherwise hard-hit financially by the coronavirus pandemic, the company forgave a portion of past-due water bill balances for those who fell behind because of the pandemic. 

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Jared Huffman: Support is needed to help pay water bills

State residents have been struggling to keep up with their water bills during the COVID-19 pandemic, but government officials say help is on the way. Survey results from the State Water Resources Control Board released in late January estimate about 1.6 million or 12% of households across the state have not paid their water bills resulting in an estimated $1 billion in statewide household water debt. The average household debt is $500. 

Aquafornia news University of Miami

Blog: Should water be traded as a commodity?

In times of drought, California’s Central Valley is full of farmers hindered by the lack of water. And this region, where the bulk of the nation’s fruits and vegetables are cultivated, is driving up the demand for water. Although many farmers without easy access to water often buy and pump it in from their neighbors, droughts often fuel massive price increases. And this often makes water so cost-prohibitive that it can discourage farmers from even planting crops. This predicament led a firm to recently list water as the newest commodity on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Now, water futures are traded daily. This helps farmers lock in a price for water, so they have a cushion if a drought threatens their crop revenues.

Aquafornia news The Desert Review

$44.4 million in MWD overcharges being returned to local water agencies

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors in February 2021 announced a plan to distribute a rebate of $44.4 million to its 24 member agencies across the region after receiving a check for that amount from the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to pay legal damages and interest, according to a SDCWA press release.

Aquafornia news La Mesa Courier

SD Water Authority mulls new aqueduct

Addressing the San Diego region’s limited local water supplies with innovative ideas is something the San Diego County Water Authority has become known for. Using expertise gained from decades of successful planning and projects, the Water Authority is developing strategies to reduce the future cost of water that sustains the economy and quality of life across the county.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Helix Water District to help needy customers starting in April

The Helix Water District Board of Directors last week unanimously approved funding for the district’s first financial customer assistance program, which will help East County residents who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The “Helix Helps Customer Assistance Program” will roll out in April and will offer a one-time credit of up to $300 for eligible single-family residential customers who are behind on their bills.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Water agencies disagree on how much water San Diego needs

The San Diego Water Authority thinks the region is going to need way more water over the next few decades, but the smaller agencies that buy water from them aren’t so sure. They think the Water Authority is projecting too much growth in future water demand, and they’re worried that if they’re right, residents are going to end up paying for it, even as they curtail their own water usage.

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Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn, Attorneys at Law

Blog: Court of appeal holds that a city’s surcharge for utility services to cover voter approved general tax on revenues from customer fees and charges did not violate Proposition 218

The Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District recently ruled in Wyatt v. City of Sacramento that a City’s imposition of a surcharge in the form of a “general tax” on property-related utility services payable to the City’s general fund did not violate Proposition 218 (Prop. 218). The appellate court decision confirms that a surcharge imposed on a utility enterprise is a cost of providing utility services and is therefore properly part of the Prop. 218 analysis of determining whether revenues exceed funds required to provide the services. 

Aquafornia news

Drowning in debt: Nearly 70,000 San Diego families are behind on water bills

A new report finds that nearly 70,000 San Diego families are behind on their water bills during the pandemic, with more than 11,000 owing over a thousand dollars. That same study by the state’s Water Resources Control Board finds that one in eight California households are behind on their water bills: a a tsunami of debt adding up to more than a billion dollars.

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Water systems in Fresno, Tulare counties in financial crisis

Unpaid water bills are piling up during the pandemic, as small water providers in the central San Joaquin Valley teeter toward a financial crisis that could affect drinking water quality and affordability. More than 76,000 customers in Madera, Fresno, Tulare and Kings counties are behind on their water bills for a total debt of more than $15 million — according to the results of a state survey of just a fraction of community water systems. In reality, the collective debt is much larger. Small community water systems, many already on shaky financial footing, may need a bailout to keep safe and drinkable water running at a price affordable to customers.

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Aquafornia news UCLA

Study: The human right to water in poor communities of color: Southern Los Angeles County

Disadvantaged communities concentrated in southern Los Angeles County lack fair options when it comes to water supply. When served by public utilities, aging infrastructure, water quality problems, and other complications can translate into sacrifices in quality or reliability. When supplied by investor-owned utilities, they receive reliable water supply but pay more than affluent communities. This report examines the case study of Sativa County Water District, a cautionary tale of a failed water system in southern LA County. 

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Water infrastructure — the unmet needs of low-income communities

To meet the promise of its day one executive order on Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities, the Biden administration needs to provide low-income communities, communities of color and Indigenous people the same access to clean and safe water that the rest of our nation takes for granted. 
-Written by David F. Coursen, a former EPA attorney and a member of the Environmental Protection Network, a nonprofit organization of EPA alumni.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Tensions spark after plan to sell Colorado River water in Arizona

Mayors and county supervisors in towns along the Colorado River were already upset five months ago when the state water agency endorsed an investment company’s plan to take water from farmland near the river and sell it to a growing Phoenix suburb. Now, they’re incensed that the agency, which initially suggested holding back a large portion of the water, changed its stance and will let the company sell most of the water to the town of Queen Creek. Elected leaders in communities along the river say they intend to continue trying to stop the proposed deal, which would need to be approved by the federal Bureau of Reclamation. 

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Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

San Diegans are drowning in water debt during COVID-19

More than 69,600 people in San Diego County are behind on their water bill right now, according to a report published last week by the California State Water Resources Control Board. The agency surveyed all of California’s water utilities in November to get a clearer picture of the financial hardship utilities have on residents at a time when more people are jobless and quarantining at home. Statewide, one in eight Californians has water debt, and the unpaid bill total has swelled to $1 billion, according to a CalMatters analysis of the data.

Aquafornia news Patch

Dublin-San Ramon Services District Board vacancy: 4 candidates to be interviewed soon

A new representative for the vacant Dublin San Ramon Services District Board Division 5 will be appointed at the Tuesday, Feb. 2 board meeting. Two members of the public applied for the position, which represents Dublin residents east of Hacienda Drive. Any applicants must live within the boundaries of the district and the board short-listed five candidates. Four finalists from that pool will be interviewed during the meeting, which is set to begin at 6 p.m. 

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Marina Coast Water District under fire for rates, spending practices

Former U.S. Rep. Sam Farr is calling for the Marina Coast Water District to be investigated for fiscal mismanagement and merge with the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, even as the district is involved in a lawsuit that has successfully challenged its water rates and could have implications for the entire Ord Community.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California residents owe $1 billion in water debt. Shutoffs coming?

In a time of record-breaking unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Californians owe an estimated $1 billion in unpaid water utility bills. With reduced revenue, hundreds of water utilities are at high risk of financial emergency. The State Water Board estimates at least 1.6 million households have an average of roughly $500 in water debt — a crisis that could lead to a wave of families facing water shutoffs, liens on their homes or other collection methods. … Data show Black and Latino households are disproportionately affected. 

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Turning the page on a disruptive year in the water world

Last year was one for the record books, with the pandemic, a statewide wildfire emergency, ongoing drought, and a lingering recession roiling California’s water landscape. These crises have exacerbated longstanding inequities in access to water services, and made it that much harder to accomplish important work to improve the resilience of the state’s water system and vulnerable ecosystems. Yet despite all the setbacks, the essential work of providing drinking water and wastewater services proceeded without a hitch—to which we all owe water workers a debt of gratitude.

Aquafornia news Torrance Daily Breeze

Opinion: Water markets critical to managing scarcity

As COVID started to spread, farmers and large cities in Southern California were hit with another blindside last March. Fires, drought, and the planting season drove up the price of California’s water market, over 220 percent in just three months. Crops failed and pastures were lost. In September, CME Group Inc vowed to create a new  market to help with the risk of these price swings. Last month, the first contract connected to the future price of California’s $1.1 billion water market was inked.
-Written by Will Rinehart, a senior research fellow at the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University.

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation finalizes M&I water rate-setting policy

Today, the Bureau of Reclamation announces the finalization of the Municipal and Industrial Water Rate-setting Policy for Central Valley Project water contractors. This accomplishment provides agreement between CVP contractors, Reclamation, and the Department of the Interior regarding the recovery of the CVP cost for M&I water users.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Four water stories to watch in 2021

Now that the calendar has flipped to January 2021, it’s time to say goodbye to the mess of the past year, yes? … The pandemic’s economic dislocation continues to reverberate among those who lost work. Severe weather boosted by a warming climate is leaving its mark in the watersheds of the Southwest [including the Colorado River]. And President-elect Biden will take office looking to undo much of his predecessor’s legacy of environmental deregulation while also writing his own narrative on issues of climate, infrastructure, and social justice….Litigation over toxic PFAS compounds found in rivers, lakes, and groundwater is already active. Lawsuits are likely to continue at a brisk pace…

Aquafornia news Whittier Daily News

Judge strikes down Central Basin’s $2 annual water meter charge

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge Thursday struck down a regional water district’s $2 annual fee on every household that was paid by more than 40 water utilities in the southeast area of Los Angeles County, including areas that don’t buy its water.

Aquafornia news California Water Service Group

News Release: California Public Utilities Commission issues decision on Cal Water’s 2018 general rate case

The California Public Utilities Commission authorized Cal Water to invest $828 million in its districts through 2021 in order to continue providing safe, reliable water service to its customers throughout California. This includes $148 million of water system infrastructure upgrades that would be recovered via the CPUC’s advice letter procedure after those projects are completed.

Aquafornia news Livermore Independent

Zone 7 to spend $2.8M on Delta Conveyance Project

In a 5-2 vote, the Zone 7 Water Agency Board approved the expenditure of $2.8 million as the agency’s share for the next phase of planning on the Delta Conveyance.

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Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Pipeline plan takes a small step forward (with some drama)

Things got a little wild at the San Diego County Water Authority meeting last week when its 36 directors argued over whether they should spend more money studying a controversial $5 billion pipeline to the Colorado River. Outrage after leaders apparently skipped over female directors waiting to add comments during a discussion period sparked some to change their vote on the matter.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin County seeks flood tax in Santa Venetia

Marin County flood planners are turning to Santa Venetia voters to help pay for an estimated $6 million project to upgrade the timber-reinforced berm that protects hundreds of homes from overtopping tides.

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

Here’s what the water sector wants from Congress and President-elect Biden

In a letter to President-elect Joe Biden last week, the American Water Works Association urged the incoming administration to prioritize COVID-19 relief for water utilities and investment for the overall water infrastructure sector.

Aquafornia news NBC San Diego

Homeowners can apply for rebates to transform their landscape

Residents in the San Diego County Water Authority’s service area can apply to get a rebate of $3 for every square-foot of lawn they replace with drought-tolerant plants.

Aquafornia news Sonoma Index Tribune

Sanitation district error leads to tax bill overcharge

Property owners in the Sonoma Valley generally receive property tax bills in early October, which includes a lengthy list of percentages levied for various bonds, and direct charges for district fees such as fire, health care and the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District. But for the third time in seven years, said Sonoma resident Scott Pace, that sanitation district charge has been inaccurate.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Outsiders wary of San Diego’s multibillion-dollar pipeline plan

Opposition is building against San Diego’s dream of erecting a $5 billion pipeline to the Colorado River in the name of resource independence. The pipe, which wouldn’t produce savings for ratepayers until at least 2063, faces its next trial on Thursday, when water managers meet to vote on spending another $1.7 million to do the next planning step.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Court determines plaintiff not required to exhaust administrative remedies in Proposition 218 challenge

The Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District recently ruled that a plaintiff challenging the method that a special district uses to calculate rates in a judicial action need not first present her evidence at the Proposition 218 public hearing regarding an increase in the rates.

Aquafornia news Sonoma West Times & News

‘Kicking the can down the road:’ Deferred maintenance at root of Cloverdale water rate increases

This Wednesday, Nov. 11, the Cloverdale City Council’s lone new agenda item is a costly one to Cloverdale residents — a proposed hike in the city’s water and sewage rates. The increases in both water and wastewater rates … is something that city officials say is needed to help start capital improvement projects related to the city’s water and wastewater systems.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

California water board collects data on household water debt, utility finances

California regulators sent a survey on Monday to 150 of the state’s largest water providers in an attempt to shed light on the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The State Water Resources Control Board wants to know how economic slowdowns related to the virus have affected utility finances and, at a household level, how many residents have overdue water bills.

Aquafornia news Livermore Independent

Accusations and denials arise over bond sale plans for Delta Tunnel

A declaration suit filed in Superior Court in Sacramento by attorneys for some of the leading environmental groups in America accuses the California Department of Water Resources of trying to prevent anyone in California from filing a court action challenging … the financing of a single tunnel that would be built under the Delta for 35 miles.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Metropolitan committee discusses funding planning costs, how to account for project benefits, who is in and who is out

At Metropolitan’s Bay-Delta Committee, staff continued preparing committee members for the upcoming decision on funding the planning costs for the Delta Conveyance Project which is anticipated to be before the full board in December.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Blog: Coalition requests CA Supreme Court depublish opinion addressing Prop. 218 ratemaking process

ACWA and a coalition of local government associations filed an amicus curiae letter on Tuesday with the California Supreme Court requesting depublication of a recent state appellate court opinion addressing the responsibilities of a plaintiff prior to challenging the rates of a utility in court.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Appeals court denies rehearing request over Oxnard wastewater ruling

On Friday, the state appellate court denied the petition by Aaron Starr, who successfully led a repeal of wastewater rates at the ballot box but the city is challenging it in court. The appeals court ruled the rate repeal known as Measure M did not provide sufficient funds for the city to operate its wastewater treatment plant… On Sunday, Starr indicated he will now petition the California State Supreme Court..

Aquafornia news San Bernardino City News

Opinion: Water district adopts reforms for sustainability

After months of meetings and thoughtful review, the West Valley Water District Board of Directors today adopted 10 major reforms crafted with staff and vetted by department managers that will deliver increased transparency, accountability and savings for ratepayers.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Public water buyout EIR certified

In a critical step for the proposed public takeover of California American Water’s Monterey-area water system, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District’s board of directors on Thursday night certified the final environmental impact report for the effort.

Aquafornia news Hi-Desert Star

Joshua Basin will pay off pipeline debt soon

After nearly 30 years the Joshua Basin Water District will soon close out its payment agreement with the Mojave Water Agency for the Morongo Basin Pipeline. … The Morongo Basin Pipeline is a 71-mile underground pipeline built by the Mojave Water Agency that brings water from the California aqueduct in Hesperia to the Mojave River in south Apple Valley…

Aquafornia news The Catalina Islander

Edison to seek water rate increase

Catalina Island’s water utility wants to significantly increase the rate it charges water users. This won’t happen immediately. The process is long and technical. Visitors to Catalina may not know it, but Southern California Edison provides water services to the island.

Aquafornia news KCLU

Santa Barbara, Montecito set to make historic 50-year water deal official

The Montecito Water District is buying into Santa Barbara’s desalination plant, which converts salt water into fresh water. The deal calls for Montecito to pick up $33 million dollars of the recently rebuilt plant’s $72 million dollar price tag, as well as to share in operational costs.

Aquafornia news Whittier Daily News

Special districts push for slice of California’s coronavirus relief pie

Chris Palmer of the California Special Districts Association said districts anticipate a $1.26 billion COVID-19 hit through the end of the 2020-21 fiscal year. … Several special districts told the Southern California News Group they haven’t suffered revenue losses — yet — though they have incurred costs from providing protective equipment to workers. A survey by Metropolitan Water District of Southern California … found the same, though rate increases have been reduced or postponed in many places.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Final public water buyout EIR released

The report analyzes the environmental effects of Monterey Peninsula Water Management District’s proposed buyout and operation of the 40,000-customer Cal Am-owned system within the district boundaries, including the proposed 6.4-million-gallon-per-day desalination plant and infrastructure

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Friday Top of the Scroll: Just how bad is California’s water debt problem? The state isn’t sure

A statewide water shutoff moratorium has kept the tap on for Californians who haven’t been able to pay their water bill in the midst of the pandemic-driven economic crisis. But ratepayer debt has been accruing for months now, leading to revenue losses for water providers across the state.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Friday Top of the Scroll: House Democrats ask CDC to halt water shutoffs during the pandemic

To protect public health, Reps. Harley Rouda of California and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan want the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to use its authority under the Public Health Service Act to prohibit water utilities from shutting off service to customers who are behind on their bills… Water industry groups point to several reasons why a national moratorium would be problematic.

Aquafornia news Redding Record-Searchlight

Happy Valley residents fighting back against water rate increase

The way Beverly Fickes sees it, there’s more at stake than just a vote to increase water rates Monday in Happy Valley. She believes the result of that vote could change the very nature of the semi-rural area southwest of Redding.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Unpaid water bills a “pending disaster” the state is trying to head off

If the state has any hope of heading off a looming “tidal wave” of residential water shut offs and bankrupt water systems, it has to get a picture of current impacts… Which is why the State Water Resources Control Board directed staff on Tuesday to begin a survey of California’s nearly 3,000 community water systems.

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Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Support of Poseidon’s desalination at stake in water board election

For years, the Orange County Water District has expressed interest in buying the desalted water, provided Poseidon receives the necessary regulatory permits. But the water district’s appetite for the controversial project could be in jeopardy after Nov. 3, if two board members who support the project are upset in their reelection bids and replaced by Poseidon skeptics.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Orange County desalination project doesn’t pencil out

Unfortunately, some Wall Street water companies are trying to take advantage of California’s drought fears by pushing through overpriced and unnecessary water projects. Poseidon Water Co. is one of those companies. Poseidon has been working for years to build a seawater desalination plant in Orange County, seeking a deal that would lock the local utility into buying their water for decades, regardless of need.

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara Independent

Pre-election meltdown at Montecito Sanitary

Some call it a “quiet revolution.” Others, a “hostile takeover.” Either way, on the heels of a severe drought, a group of wealthy Montecitans, many of them members of the Birnam Wood and Valley Club golf courses on East Valley Road, will gain control over all aspects of water policy on November 3 and for the foreseeable future in this exclusive enclave of one-acre lots and large estates.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

“Madness and arrogance” forced lawsuit against desert groundwater agency

Two lawsuits accusing the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority of ramming through a plan that ignores water rights and, according to one plaintiff, is intended to “destroy agriculture” were filed this week. At issue is a controversial $2,000-per-acre-foot fee that would be charged to certain groundwater users over a five-year period. That money is intended to raise $50 million to buy Central Valley water and, somehow, bring it over the Sierra Nevada to replenish the overdrafted desert aquifer.

Aquafornia news KPBS

San Diego County Water Authority sets agricultural water discount in exchange for reliability

Participants will pay $1,295 per acre-foot for treated water, while municipal and industrial users will pay $1,769 per acre-foot. Farmers who participate will receive a lower level of water service during shortages or emergencies. That allows the water authority to reallocate those supplies to commercial and industrial customers who pay for full reliability benefits. In exchange, participating farmers are exempt from fixed water storage and supply reliability charges.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Opinion: Connecting disadvantaged communities to clean, reliable water in East Valley

Only a few minutes away from our beautiful Coachella Valley golf courses and music festival locations, there are thousands of people living in conditions without access to clean water or reliable sanitation services. For these families, if something breaks in the private water system serving their home, they go without water.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Opinion:  Water supply – the testimony that never was

Last week on these pages, you heard the President of California American Water explain their rationale for withdrawing their application for a desalination plant from the California Coastal Commission the day before their Sept. 17 hearing. What he didn’t tell you is that there is a feasible alternative project that has less environmental impact, is more socially just, and would be less costly to ratepayers

Aquafornia news Times of San Diego

Lawsuit alleges water authority failed to deliver desalinated water to San Marcos

The Vallecitos Water District in San Marcos filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging the San Diego County Water Authority overcharged by nearly $6 million for desalinated water that was never delivered, despite an agreement to construct a pipeline for that exact purpose.

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: When it comes to water access, the devil is the details

Q&A with Greg Pierce, associate director of the Luskin Center for Innovation at UCLA and a senior researcher, leading the Water, Environmental Equity, and Transportation programs. “Overall, water affordability is a big topic, and it’s new enough that it doesn’t have an entrenched definition. There are no state or federal support programs, and drinking water systems are super fragmented. That’s true nationally and in California, where we have 3,000 community water systems.”

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Citing revenue shortfall, state water board raises fees

Emergency regulations adopted by the State Water Resources Control Board will raise fees for water-quality and water-rights programs. Agricultural organizations criticized the action and its timing, but board members said the new fees would be needed to keep its programs solvent.

Aquafornia news

Six candidates vie for three seats on Central Contra Costa Sanitary District board

The Central Contra Costa Sanitary District Board of Directors is one of the special districts set to appear on San Ramon Valley voters’ ballots during the Nov. 3 election, with six candidates vying for three at-large seats on the sewer board.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Cal Am withdraws desal project bid

California American Water has withdrawn its Peninsula desalination project bid at the Coastal Commission on the eve of the commission’s special meeting, citing social and environmental justice issues.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Groundwater externalities and the agricultural response to water pricing

Dr. Ellen Bruno is a Cooperative Extension Specialist in the Department of Ag and Resource Economics at UC Berkeley. At a recent Silver Solutions webinar, she shared some of the preliminary results on a paper she is working on… The study considers the impacts of agricultural water pricing and the effect on water use and land use change.

Aquafornia news

Metropolitan Water District approves cost-cutting plan

The board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Tuesday approved a cost-cutting plan to reduce expenditures in response to lower water sales and concerns about the financial impacts of COVID-19 on its member agencies. The cuts will save about $11.7 million…

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Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Opinion: Impact of new Indian Wells Valley Water District groundwater fees on customers

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority has taken actions recently with regards to fees that will affect customers of the Indian Wells Valley Water District. … It is my intent to provide context for how these fees will translate to your bill from the district.

Aquafornia news Times of San Diego

Opinion: Metropolitan Water District can do better for Southern California amid COVID

The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have taken action to protect ratepayers by implementing strong cost-cutting strategies to limit rate increases without sacrificing a safe and reliable water supply or the ability to plan for the future. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Aquafornia news Valley News

Rancho Water to refund bonds and cover loss from shelved rate increases

The Rancho California Water District agreed to authorize its general manager to negotiate bond issuances to save the district an estimated $1.3 million. The savings will help cover the loss expected when the board agreed to halt rate increases during the COVID-19 pandemic last month.

Aquafornia news San Diego County Water Authority

Blog: San Diego County Water Authority seeks rate relief at MWD

With the recession and the COVID-19 pandemic causing economic havoc nationally and across Southern California, the San Diego County Water Authority has adopted several cost-cutting strategies to reduce rate increases and it’s asking the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to do the same.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

News release: SFPUC extends popular emergency customer assistance program through end of year

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is extending its Emergency Residential Community Assistance Program, designed to help customers struggling to pay water, sewer and Hetch Hetchy power bills during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program, which launched in May, was originally set to expire Sept. 4, but will now be expanded through the end of the year

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California must ensure water access during COVID-19 pandemic

In April, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order placing a moratorium on water shutoffs and requiring reconnections for households disconnected after March 4. … But record unemployment means California should expect a tsunami of water shutoffs when the moratorium ends and bills come due.

Aquafornia news Sierra Club Angeles Chapter

Blog: Water a public resource: How privatization happens Pt. 2

The water system owned by the city of Montebello is primarily made up of old concrete pipes made with asbestos, a once-common part of water and drainage systems. This system has not been properly maintained, and is now in need of $50 million worth of health and safety repairs and improvements. Why has this been allowed to occur you may ask?

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California Public Utilities Commission fires executive director after staffing dispute

Marybel Batjer, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, said Executive Director Alice Stebbins had taken the “appalling and disgraceful” step of deliberately hiring a “marginally qualified former colleague” over better-suited candidates, among other claims detailed in a report from the State Personnel Board….The commission watches over investor-owned electric and gas companies as well as telecommunications, water, rail and passenger transportation businesses.

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Aquafornia news CNBC

34.5 million households losing utility shutoff protections by Sept. 30

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans have relied on emergency orders put in place by state and local governments that bar utilities from shutting off services such as gas, electricity and water. However, many of these orders will expire by the end of September, leaving 34.5 million households without shutoff protections…Only seven states — California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Wyoming  — and Washington, D.C. do not have expiration dates set on their moratorium orders… 

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Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Water district fires nearly all employees after they refuse to follow board’s illegal votes

A water district serving 25 cities and 1.6 million residents in southeast Los Angeles County, already waging a battle with customers and the state Legislature over its future, has fired nearly two-thirds of its employees in a last-ditch effort to stabilize district finances. The budget cuts … decimated the scandal-plagued Central Basin Municipal Water District’s organizational chart, removing every department head, most of its engineers and its entire water resources department all at once.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

CPUC approves structural change to water bills

 The California Public Utilities Commission, siding with its consumer-advocate arm, voted 4-1 to halt what are known as water-revenue adjustment mechanisms, which sometimes resulted in unexpected surcharges on ratepayers’ monthly bills.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Replenishment fee passed. Now what?

The estimated fee would be $24 a month for the average residential user presuming a five-year repayment period, according to Gleason. The fee would reportedly collect some $50 million which would be used to purchase water rights for imported water, presuming the same users continue using the water at roughly the same rate.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Water agency approves 7,000-percent cost increase

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority voted 4-1 to pass the replenishment fee despite significant public opposition. … Although residential users will see an estimated $24 per month increase, Searles Valley Minerals will see a 7,000-percent increase in water costs.

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Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

CPUC to vote on water bill surcharge reform

A ruling that promises to rein in surcharges appearing on the water bills of 3 million ratepayers in Monterey County and elsewhere is coming up for a vote at the California Public Utilities Commission Thursday. The reform is proposed by CPUC Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves with backing from the agency’s Public Advocate’s Office. Aceves says the surcharge system failed to incentivize conservation and just ended up making water more expensive.

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Aquafornia news Valley Economy

Blog: New $15.9b Delta tunnel cost estimate: Revisiting DWR’s 2018 analysis with updated costs shows it is a bad investment

Simply updating costs to this latest estimate ($15.9 billion in 2020 dollars is equivalent to $15 billion in the 2017$) reduces the benefit-cost ratio for State Water Project urban agencies from 1.23 to 0.92, and for agricultural agencies from 1.17 to 0.87. That’s a bad investment, but it is actually much worse than that.

Aquafornia news Valley Economy

Blog: Water Blueprint proposes a valley-wide sales tax to fund its irrigation water plan. Is it feasible?

Earlier this month, CSU-Fresno hosted the event “Funding Water Infrastructure in the San Joaquin Valley.” The majority of the event was focused on the so-called “Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley,” a high profile new investment plan for irrigation water. At the event, the Blueprint rolled out a proposed funding plan – the centerpiece of which is a proposed 0.5% special sales tax in the 8 counties of the San Joaquin Valley.

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Aquafornia news Valley News

Rancho Water board postpones rate increases until July 2021

Rick Aragon, assistant general manager of Rancho Water, said that at the time of the first deferral, it was assumed that the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions would be lessened by early fall and that the board could reconsider rate increases. … Aragon said the deferral would reduce the district’s revenue by more than $858,000, but he said the district had a good fiscal year recently.

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Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Basin replenishment fee passed

The basin replenishment fee was passed by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority with a vote of four to one Friday afternoon. IWV Water District Director Ron Kicinski was the sole no vote. The IWVGA voted after the basin replenishment fee protest hearing Friday failed. The IWVGA did not announce the number of protest votes received…

Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Opinion: CPUC proposal would increase water rates for low-income customers

Residents and small businesses in Visalia who were struggling, even before the economic shut down of COVID-19 to make ends meet, should be very concerned about a proposal the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is considering that would increase water bills for millions of Californians, including low-income customers who use the least amount of water.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

‘Save Searles’ aims to save mineral plant from 7000 percent water fee hike

’The “Save Searles” campaign was launched Tuesday, three days before the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority public hearing on a controversial replenishment fee. The fee would increase water costs for Searles Valley Minerals by nearly $6 million a year, “pushing the company and the local community towards extinction,” according to the campaign…

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Eastern Tule Groundwater Agency proposes groundwater extraction fee

The proposed fee to be charged is $4.92 per acre foot of which $1.61 would go to administration/overhead, $1.78 would go to professional services, 65 cents would go to water accounting and 88 cents would go to technical monitoring. The agency’s budget for 2020-2021 is $1,519,210. The fee would fund $759,605 of the budget.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Replenishment fee, ag buyouts on the agenda for Indian Wells Groundwater Authority

The proposed replenishment fee is $2,130 per acre-foot of extracted water. This represents a composite fee which covers the estimated imported water purchase cost of $2,112 per acre-foot extracted and $17.50 per acre-foot extracted for estimated costs to mitigate shallow wells from overdraft damage… This would work out to an estimated fee of $24 per month for the average residential user…

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Millions in US face losing water supply as coronavirus moratoriums end

Running water had been guaranteed to about two-thirds of Americans as hundreds of utilities suspended disconnections amid warnings from public health experts that good hygiene, particularly hand-washing, was crucial to curtailing the spread of the virus. But now at least 115 local moratoriums on water disconnections … have expired. That leaves 46 million or so people at risk of having their taps turned off… [Note: The story makes no reference to California.]

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

California City OKs temporary water rate change

To keep California City looking green and beautiful in addition to saving money, the City Council approved a temporary acre-foot water rate change. … City Staff is working with Quad Knopf, a civil engineering company, to extensively review water rates and have a water rate study completed the next few months.

Aquafornia news California Land Use & Development Law Report

Blog: Municipal water rates are protected from referendum challenges

The California Supreme Court ruled that water rates and other local utility charges are considered “taxes” for the purpose of California Constitution Article II, Section 9 and therefore exempt from the referendum process.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Opinion: CPUC ‘yes’ vote could cut water bill surcharges for millions

If passed, the new program would promote water conservation and make water bills more affordable and transparent for millions of residents, benefitting both low-income customers and those who use less water.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Groundwater in the Indian Wells Valley: Just what is in the IWV’s proposed replenishment fee?

The short answer is, the replenishment fee is a per-acre-foot extraction fee proposed by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority to pay for mitigation of registered shallow wells damaged by continuing overdraft, as well as to begin importing water necessary to balance the groundwater basin. A public hearing regarding the fee is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 21 at city hall.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Santa Clara Valley Water District seeks $682 million parcel tax

After years marked by a historic statewide drought and devastating floods around downtown San Jose, Santa Clara County’s largest water provider has decided to ask voters to approve a parcel tax to pay for a wide variety of projects, from flood control to creek restoration, along with some costs of rebuilding the county’s largest dam at Anderson Reservoir.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

More than 1.5 million residential customers owe $1.1 billion to their water departments

Most Americans give little thought to water bills, paying them on time and in full. But for a subset of homeowners and renters, water debt is constant and menacing. The burden is an extension of two notable national trends: the rising cost of water service and the general precarity of those at the bottom of the economic pecking order. A missed bill or faulty plumbing can spell financial doom… Sophia Skoda, the chief financial officer for East Bay Municipal Utility District, in California, said that Congress needs “to step up to its responsibility” to ensure that water and sewer service is affordable for all people.

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Aquafornia news Santa Barbara News-Press

City council discusses grant for desalination plant

The Santa Barbara City Council unanimously passed a motion Tuesday to introduce and subsequently adopt an ordinance authorizing a grant funding agreement with the State Department of Water Resources in the amount of $10 million for reactivation of the Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Opinion: If CPUC eliminates ‘decoupling,’ water rates would rise

As early as Aug. 6, the California Public Utilities Commission could vote to adopt a proposal that would eliminate a best-practice regulatory tool – known as decoupling – that currently removes the incentive of water suppliers to sell more water. This significant change has the potential to hamper water conservation efforts in California and raise rates for millions of customers without providing them any corresponding benefit …

Aquafornia news National Rural Water Association

Blog: National Rural Water Association backs Emergency Assistance for Rural Water Systems Act

The Emergency Assistance for Rural Water Systems Act allows USDA Rural Development to provide affordable and sustainable financial options for rural utilities impacted by COVID-19. Assistance includes grants, zero percent loans, one percent loans, principal and interest reduction, loan modifications and direct operational assistance…

Aquafornia news Noozhawk

Santa Barbara council accepts $10 million grant to operate desalination plant

The Santa Barbara City Council voted 7-0 on Tuesday to accept a $10 million grant — with the understanding that it will run the plant at full capacity for at least 36 out of the next 40 years. Some environmentalists objected to the council’s decision, citing environmental concerns.

Aquafornia news

A small city wants to unload a leaky water system, but regulators say not so fast

The city of Bellflower wants to sell its aging water system to a big for-profit water company that is better able to manage it. But the deal could fall through. That’s because state regulators say the price is so high, it could hurt water customers across Southern California.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California high court sides with small town in water rate hike fight

The rural Northern California town of Dunsmuir can impose a water rate hike on residents to fund a $15 million system upgrade, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday.

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Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Water bills would fundamentally change under proposal headed for CPUC

Some Bakersfield residents’ water bills will be fundamentally restructured, with big cost implications, if the California Public Utilities Commission votes Thursday to end an experiment that 12 years ago erased a financial incentive to sell people more water.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

What is Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority? An overview

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s notice of an upcoming public hearing on a basin replenishment fee has attracted a lot of attention from water users in the valley, but not everyone understands what the IWVGA is.

Aquafornia news Long Beach Post

Tied up in appeals, litigation over water fees could deepen Long Beach fiscal pain

Long Beach’s financial future has been thrust into uncertainty by the COVID-19 pandemic, but existing litigation over its practice of charging city-run utilities to access rights of ways could blow a nearly $20 million hole in future budgets if the city loses a court appeal.

Aquafornia news BenitoLink

San Benito Foods sues Hollister over permit, claims extortion

In a court filing, San Benito Foods accused the Hollister City Council of “extortion of fees” for removing sludge from pond #2 at the city’s industrial wastewater treatment plant, which the cannery uses to dispose of its wastewater, and that it is in breach of an agreement between the city and the company.

Aquafornia news

News release: Millbrae defers water rate increases to 2021

While the city has suspended shutting off water accounts for non-payment and has been working with its customers to set up payment plans, more relief was needed. To help offset some of the burdens of COVID-19, the Millbrae City Council voted unanimously this month to defer the July 1, 2020, water rate increase until January 1, 2021.

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Aquafornia news Politico

The new water wars

The coronavirus economic crash is tightening the financial vise on utilities that supply water and sanitation across the country, potentially putting water companies on the verge of financial insolvency while millions of Americans struggle to pay their utility bills.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Why your water bill might spike

San Diego’s water utility is preparing to absorb a five percent spike in rates this year despite cries from elected officials to freeze costs during a global pandemic. Why? The blame often gets passed up the proverbial pipeline.

Aquafornia news Roseville Today

Placer County, PCWA split $12 million revenue distribution

In 1961, Placer County voters overwhelmingly approved the sale of bonds to finance construction of the Middle Fork American River Hydroelectric Project (MFP). Nearly 60 years later, with the bonds fully paid and financial reserves fully funded, the first-ever distribution of net revenue from the MFP has been made…

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Opinion: Affordability of utility services in the COVID-19 era

Utility disconnections due to non-payment have surged over the last decade and some financial projections show electric utility costs are likely to increase 15-35% over the next three years.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego homes, businesses subsidize industrial wastewater polluters by millions of dollars

San Diego homes and businesses have been improperly charged tens of millions of dollars for a program that keeps toxic sewer water from being discharged into the Pacific Ocean, the City Auditor’s Office has found. A new report from Interim City Auditor Kyle Elser said the city has failed to charge Industrial Wastewater Control Program permit holders enough to cover the costs of the program.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority approves groundwater extraction fee hike

Local water users will pay higher groundwater extraction fees to close the gap between estimated and actual costs associated with the Groundwater Sustainability Plan required by California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The fee increase was approved on Thursday by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Unpaid bills spiking at some water utilities

Several state legislators have asked the Governor to extend his order prohibiting water shutoffs for nonpayment to even the smallest water utilities.

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Pandemic and surging summer heat leave thousands struggling to pay utility bills

There are significant health risks associated with falling behind on bills and getting disconnected from utilities, said Diana Hernández, an assistant professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and these risks are amplified by the extreme temperatures caused by climate change.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Phoenix tests water shutoff alternative

Inserted where the meter connects to the service line, the device cuts the flow of water into the home to a trickle. Phoenix, which began using the devices in early March, only to remove them a few weeks later once the pandemic happened, believes it is the first U.S. utility to use flow restrictors instead of shutting off water to households that are behind on their bills.

Aquafornia news KXTV

Stockton to switch to ‘owner-only’ utility bill system

The new “owner-only” system means that new utility accounts in the city using city services can only be opened in the name of the property owner—this includes homeowners and owners of apartment properties. … The Stockton City Council opted for the new ordinance after a Jan. 2018 council meeting addressing unpaid bills. Delinquent payments were prompted by billing issues with Stockton’s dual water service providers–the city of Stockton and Cal Water.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: The water is contaminated. But California bottled water program isn’t helping Earlimart

The cost of buying cases of bottled water for cooking and drinking is adding up for residents of Earlimart, where a contaminated well became the main source of tap water for more than 8,000 people there in late May. The State Water Resources Control Board that is responsible for drinking water has a program to provide financial assistance for bottled water to help communities in crisis. It has not been available in Earlimart — and it is unclear why.

Aquafornia news Transparent California

Blog: L.A. Dept. of Water & Power security guard earned nearly $1 million over the past three years, new data show

Overtime pay at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) hit a record-high $258 million last year, up 90 percent from 2013. … The average LADWP worker made $136,045 last year, with a record-high 320 employees receiving overtime pay of at least $100,000. That number is up over 1,000% from 2013

Aquafornia news St. George Spectrum

Lake Powell Pipeline: Officials peppered with questions at first meeting

The public last week had its first opportunity to pepper officials with questions about the Lake Powell Pipeline’s recently-released draft environmental impact statement, a 313-page document from the Bureau of Reclamation examining how the controversial project could impact a myriad of resources in several scenarios.

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Aquafornia news Cupertino Today

Santa Clara launching program to assist on water bills

With families at home more during the COVID-19 shelter in place, water and sewer bills are on the rise. Combine that with economic hardship due to business closures and reduced work, and families are struggling to get by. The City of Santa Clara is responding to this challenge with a new program to assist residential customers. Those who have been harmed by COVID-19’s impacts may be able to get a 25% discount on their bill.