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 San Francisco Chronicle

Complaints pour in over planned East Bay water rate hike

A plan to raise East Bay water rates by nearly 20 percent partly to make up for all the lost revenue from customers who were responsible during the drought was facing a deluge of outrage Monday. 

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

California drought may be over, but conservation controversy continues

An effort by California officials to carry their success with water conservation beyond the drought is not sitting well with local water managers, many of whom are eager to shake off state control. … The proposal was met with howls of protest from many local water agency leaders, who say budget-based water rates are too costly and complicated to adopt. Some also object to state meddling in water rates, historically the sole province of local water utilities.

Western Water Gary Pitzer Gary Pitzer

Drought’s Impact on Fiscal Planning Highlights PPIC Report
Suppliers need “proactive” drought pricing to prevent cash crunch

During drought, people conserve water. That’s a good thing for public water agencies and the state as a whole but the reduction in use ultimately means less money flowing into the budgets of those very agencies that need funds to treat water to drinkable standards, maintain a distribution system, and build a more drought-proof supply.

“There are two things that can’t happen to a water utility – you can’t run out of money and you can’t run out of water,” said Tom Esqueda, public utilities director for the city of Fresno. He was a panelist at a June 16 discussion in Sacramento about drought resiliency sponsored by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

EBMUD’s $120,000 mistake

The East Bay Municipal Utility District is spending $120,000 to resend all of its 385,000 account holders a notice of a proposed 19 percent rate increase after discovering the first mailing omitted 15,000 to 20,000 customers. … Under the state’s voter-approved Proposition 218, public agencies must mail out a notice of rate increases 45 days before adopting them.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Price of water 2017: Four percent increase in 30 large U.S. cities

Belying their reputation as conservative institutions that resist change, large U.S. water utilities, in response to slow-motion social and hydrological shifts that alter water availability and use, are showing signs of creativity. The inspiration is reflected in their rates, which continue a relentless, but slowing, upward climb. … The challenge for utilities today is threefold: earn enough revenue to repair broken pipes, keep water affordable for the poor, and do so while selling less of their product.

Aquafornia news KPBS Public Broadcasting, San Diego

State appeals court hears San Diego water dispute

The California Courts of Appeal has 90 days to decide the fate of a water rate dispute between a Los Angeles-based water wholesaler and San Diego County water managers. At issue is the cost of moving water through the Metropolitan Water District’s delivery system.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Did Los Angeles DWP overcharge you? Customers to receive information on billing settlement starting this week

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers will soon be able to recover their money from a landmark class-action settlement.

Aquafornia news KQED Public Media for Northern California

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Why this California town’s water costs way more than the national average

In his 100-day action plan to “Make America Great Again,” President Trump proposed privatization as the best strategy for fixing the country’s infrastructure, including roads, bridges and water systems. That’s already happened in Lake County’s Lucerne and other small towns like it throughout California — and it’s not working out very well for people like the Cruz family.

Aquafornia news Glendale News-Press

Glendale’s water rates violate state law, judge rules

Last week, a judge ruled against the city of Glendale for violating Proposition 218 in creating its current water rate-pricing structure first adopted in 2014, in a lawsuit brought by the Glendale Coalition for Better Government.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Desert Water Agency approves significant rate hike

The Desert Water Agency Board of Directors unanimously approved a significant rate hike Thursday, the first in a series of five increases that — if all are eventually approved —   could result in an almost 80 percent increase to customers’ bills over the next four years if all are passed.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Wealthy Hillsborough residents sue, saying water rates are too high

In a case that could have statewide ramifications, a group of multimillionaire Hillsborough residents, including an early funder of Microsoft, has sued the town claiming that its drought rules and penalties intended to keep people from over-watering big lawns are illegal.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles DWP owes LA customers $67.5 million because of rampant overbilling

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power owes its customers at least $67.5 million in refunds and credits after the utility overbilled them, an independent monitor has concluded.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

How water use has declined with population growth

After examining water use data and water agencies’ urban water plans, [Heather] Cooley and her colleagues found that while water use stayed stagnant or declined in some areas, many utilities were projecting increased water use in the future, which shows they’re not allowing for efficiency improvements and so they could be overestimating demand, which could increase costs for rate payers for water they may not use.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Fight over Yorba Linda water rates culminates in recall vote

An acrimonious fight over a water-rate increase in Orange County will culminate Tuesday when voters decide whether to recall two of their local water district’s board members and whether to reelect a third.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

California designs first statewide water affordability program

Prompted by a 2015 state law, the State Water Resources Control Board has begun designing a program to provide state aid to individuals and families who need help paying their water bills. Due to the Legislature by February 1, 2018, California is determined to be the first to use state funds to subsidize water service for poor residents, water rate experts say.

Aquafornia news The Orange County Register

Judge says Yorba Linda water board’s fee increase was legal

The Yorba Linda Water District won its legal fight Monday against a community group opposed to a $25 monthly water-rate increase imposed on ratepayers.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Judge — Yorba Linda residents can’t use a referendum to void water rate hikes

Orange County Superior Court judge ruled Monday in a closely watched case that customers of a water district cannot void rate increases using a referendum.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: How revenue losses played into decision to relax conservation rules in California

It wasn’t just generous spring rains filling north-state reservoirs that had California’s urban water districts pushing back so hard against mandatory water cuts this year. All those brown lawns and shorter showers have cost them millions in customer revenue.

Aquafornia news The Orange County Register

Watchdog: Water fight may leave some Orange County customers with bigger bills

The latest skirmish in the water wars asks the cryptic question: When is water not really water? The answer, it seems, is when words in an 83-year-old law – a law conceived long before the notion that recycled sewage was anything but disgusting – essentially negate its existence.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Residents in westside town get extra money to offset water bills

Residents of El Porvenir, threatened with water shutoff in August as their neighbors in Cantua Creek were last year, are getting financial relief from the state. … In April, the farmworker residents of the tiny western Fresno County town rejected a higher water rate over five years that amounted to about $5 a month the first year.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Water district approves controversial rate increase

The board of the Coachella Valley Water District voted on Tuesday to raise rates after hearing an outpouring of opposition from dozens of people who protested the increase as excessive.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Plan to raise water rates sparks controversy

A plan to raise water rates in communities from Cathedral City to La Quinta is being questioned and scrutinized by customers who say they’re about to be hit with an excessive financial burden.

Aquafornia news The Orange County Register

Battle over water rates in Yorba Linda could spill beyond Orange County

How much money does the water district have, and how much does it really need? … Yorba Linda’s case is a high-stakes test of the power of Proposition 218, which gave Californians the power to repeal or reduce any local tax, assessment or fee.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Yorba Linda legal fight turns nasty as residents seek to overturn water rate hike

At issue is a $25-per-month rate hike that Yorba Linda Water District officials say was needed to keep the agency solvent after state-mandated water conservation blew a hole in its budget.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Modesto Irrigation District critics welcome class-action lawsuit over electricity subsidy

News of a class-action lawsuit against the Modesto Irrigation District brought similar reactions from its most frequent critics, all of whom said it’s about time.

Aquafornia news KPBS Public Media

San Diego County Water Authority files lawsuit against MWD

The San Diego County Water Authority on Wednesday announced the filing of another lawsuit over rates charged by the Metropolitan Water District, a Los Angeles-based water wholesaler.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Higher water rates likely due to mandate

This is the time of year when water utilities set their rates, which almost inevitably go up. But this year, the rate hikes are likely to be higher than usual, as water utilities cope with the unexpected impact of mandatory conservation on their budgets.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Clovis water savers soon won’t benefit from lower rates

In a move that even Clovis city officials agree is unlikely to bolster water conservation efforts, the city is changing its water rate structure so that residents using less will pay more. New rates will go into effect July 1 if the City Council approves them Monday night.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Despite loss in court, water supplier still sticking San Diego with big bills

Even though San Diego water customers may be owed hundreds of millions of dollars by the region’s largest water supplier, it will be a long time before anyone sees a dime. 

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Water affordability is a new civil rights movement in the United States

The cost of drinking water and sewer services in the United States, rising on average at twice the rate of inflation, is giving birth to a new civil rights movement, one based on access to water and sanitation for the poor.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

The world’s poorest pay largest percentage of income for water, study says

The study, “Water: At What Cost? The State of the World’s Water,” coincides with the international observance of World Water Day.

Aquafornia news KPCC Southern California Public Radio

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

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

Aquafornia news KPBS Public Broadcasting

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

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

Aquafornia news The Orange County Register

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

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

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California ballot measure would broaden conservation water rates

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger (LLP)

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

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

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Worker pay only small part of water rate hikes

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

Aquafornia news The New York Times

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

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

Aquafornia news San Diego Union Tribune

Water rates to spike 16 percent in San Diego

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

Aquafornia news Water Deeply, Covering the Crisis

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Secret water sale complaints spill into Oakdale Irrigation board meeting

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Daily News

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

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

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

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

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

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin Municipal Water District sets date for rate increase hearing

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Helix water board votes for 5-year rate hike

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

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)

Blog: How should we price water? (video)

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

Aquafornia news Associated Press

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

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

Aquafornia news KQED Public Radio for Northern California

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Calif. Supreme Court won’t budge on water rates

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

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

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

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

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

High court hands setback to water conservation fight

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

San Diego water district wins ruling in MWD pricing dispute

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

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Water Authority wins rate case

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California agency considers water prices to save in drought

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

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Highlights: Californians paying more for water in drought

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

Aquafornia news Associated Press

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

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

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

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

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

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin Municipal Water District faces lawsuit over tiered rate structure

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

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

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

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

24 percent water rate hike approved for East Bay

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

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Contra Costa Water District raises rates to prompt conservation

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

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

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

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

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Victorious San Juan Capistrano water users want a refund

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Water Replenishment District of Southern California awash in steep legal fees

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California water districts scramble to deal with ruling on rate tiers

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Editorial: Water ruling on Prop 218 can be overcome

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

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

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

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

Aquafornia news Associated Press

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

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Higher water rates on tap as utilities cover losses from drought

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

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

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

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

Aquafornia news U-T San Diego

Lawsuit could lower costs, bring more water to San Diego

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

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

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

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

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Steep water rate increases eyed for EBMUD customers

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

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Busy Modesto Irrigation District agenda includes water rate hike

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

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

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

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

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

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

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

DWP billing system errors add $245 million to uncollected debt

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

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

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

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

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Big water rate hikes considered by Bay Area agencies

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

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Daily News

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

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

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Santa Cruz looks at water conservation, costs

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

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Water and eminent domain: a volatile mix

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

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

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

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

Aquafornia news Monterey County Herald

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

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Los Angeles agency hits the top in arrogance

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno water-rate battle heads to a key vote

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

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

State promises $195 million loan for Fresno water project

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Lack of cooperation halts audit of DWP trusts, city says

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

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

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

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

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

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

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

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

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

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

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

MID subsidy will come under microscope

Fairness of prices charged by the Modesto Irrigation District for its two core services – water and power – will be examined at public workshops starting Tuesday morning.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Daily News

In Los Angeles DWP overbilling, customers file 2 class-action lawsuits

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers have filed two class-action lawsuits claiming they were overcharged by the DWP’s troubled computer billing system.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Four L.A. residents file class-action suits over DWP billing errors

At least four Los Angeles residents have sued the Department of Water and Power, alleging that the utility overcharged them and made other errors during the rollout of a new computer billing system.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Blog: Brandau’s news conference probably is about noses as well as water

Fresno City Hall should be hopping on Thursday — water rates will be the catalyst.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

TID approves large water rate hike

A vote Tuesday more than doubled water rates for farmers in the Turlock Irrigation District.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

EBMUD puts rate increase and emergency supply on hold at least until April

The East Bay’s largest water district will wait until April before deciding whether to take an emergency water supply that would trigger a rate increase.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Water rates could rise sharply for Turlock Irrigation District farmers

A vote Tuesday could more than double water rates in the Turlock Irrigation District, but farmers appear to be taking it in stride.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Modesto Irrigation District proposal ignores subsidy

A proposal to change water rates for farmers would have some paying more money and some less, but would not bring more revenue to the Modesto Irrigation District or affect the massive subsidy borne by its electricity customers.

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Legal Commentary: Local agencies that can recover fees through Prop. 218 process are ineligible for state reimbursements

Several agricultural water suppliers seeking reimbursement for state-mandated activities under the Water Conservation Act of 2009 are ineligible to receive state funding, the Commission on State Mandates has decided. The decision, released in early December, states that the suppliers are ineligible because they have the option to recover costs through the Proposition 218 process.

Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

City of Sacramento sends SWAT team after disgruntled water customer

Problems arose in 2013, when [Patrick Lee] O’Kane says he stopped paying his water bill because no one could explain, to his satisfaction, the rate hikes and surplus charges.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

EBMUD puts rate hike on hold

Thanks to December’s downpour, 1.3 million East Bay residents expecting to see a 14 percent hike in their water bill this month are getting a break — for now. The East Bay Municipal Utility District has postponed its emergency plan to pump Sacramento River water to local reservoirs as insurance against a prolonged drought.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA)

Announcement: ACWA-sponsored water rate workshops set for January 2015

ACWA is jointly sponsoring two workshops designed for general managers and financial officers titled “Crafting Water Rates for Revenue Stability and Conservation.”

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Water district considering another rate hike

The cost of water in southern Alameda County might rise again soon, as the utility serving the area is considering a rate hike for the 13th consecutive year.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Turlock Irrigation District power rates will rise 2 percent overall

Electricity customers of the Turlock Irrigation District will get a rate increase averaging 2 percent as of Jan. 1, following a 5-0 vote by its board Tuesday morning. … TID also has proposed a far larger increase – more than double – in farm water rates.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

East Bay poised for higher water rates

Despite early December rains, the East Bay Municipal Utility District board voted unanimously Tuesday to augment its Sierra reservoirs with water purchases from the Central Valley Water Project and to pass on the cost to customers, if need be.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Sacramento to speed up water meter installations

City of Sacramento officials plan to speed up installing water meters at homes and businesses, aiming to beat a state-mandated 2025 deadline by five years and potentially saving millions of dollars.

Aquafornia news Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Measuring the cost of Claremont’s water take over

As the city [Claremont] begins its effort to acquire a water system from Golden State Water Company one question looms: at what cost? … On Nov. 4, voters overwhelmingly backed a bond measure that allows the city to borrow up to $135 million to acquire the system, which serves more than 11,000 customers.

Aquafornia news

Poor management blamed for Los Angeles DWP customer billing problems

Poor management and an unprepared work force hampered the rollout of a new billing system by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, a new report says, resulting in thousands of incorrect billings and customer telephone hold times of up to two hours.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Turlock Irrigation District considers large water rate hikes

Farmers in the Turlock Irrigation District could see water prices more than double under a proposal going before its board Tuesday morning.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Deal approved to audit Los Angeles DWP nonprofits’ records

After more than a year of bitter legal battles, Los Angeles city leaders have approved a deal with the powerful Department of Water and Power union that promises the first detailed, public look at how two controversial nonprofits affiliated with the utility spent tens of millions of ratepayer dollars.

Aquafornia news Stanford News

News Release: Water sector ripe for innovation and investment, finds Stanford-led report

Investors looking for promising growth markets would do well to consider their water bill. “While the water sector offers many opportunities to innovate and deploy new technologies, in practice the sector has barely tapped the potential those technologies offer,” conclude the authors of a new Stanford-led report, “The Path to Water Innovation,” which recommends spurring innovation by revising pricing policies, regulatory frameworks and financing.

Aquafornia news Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Claremont voters pass [water bond] Measure W

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Measure W passed with a commanding lead of 6,116 votes in favor and 2,452 votes opposed to the initiative which taxpayers hope will reduce water rates. Residents headed to the polls to decide the fate of the highly contentious Measure W, which would allow Claremont to borrow up to $135 million in revenue bonds to finance the acquisition of the local water system owned and operated by Golden State Water Co.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

City officials say fixing Fresno’s water challenges won’t be cheap

A month of water debate has delivered an unsurprising message to Fresno City Hall — given their druthers, people prefer stuff to be free. But the 150 people who gathered at Gaston Middle School in southwest Fresno on Monday for the third of four water forums got an equally unsurprising reply: Water is the stuff of life, and it’s going to cost you.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

Anderson City Council narrowly approves water rate hike

Water base rates in the southern Shasta County town will increase 5 percent on Dec. 1 and another 5 percent the same time next year following the split decision.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Amid California’s drought, a bruising battle for cheap water

The signs appear about 200 miles north of Los Angeles, tacked onto old farm wagons parked along quiet two-lane roads and bustling Interstate 5. “Congress Created Dust Bowl.” “Stop the Politicians’ Water Crisis.” “No Water No Jobs.”

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

The West is bone dry. Here’s how to help

Drought is rampant these days in many parts of the American West, so consider this a pretty sweet gift: You’ve just been given the rights to some water. … Your job is to turn around and use that resource in the most valuable way possible.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Sonoma to consider hiking water rates

In an attempt to reduce water use during California’s severe drought, Sonoma’s City Council will consider raising water rates next month and imposing a new tiered-pricing system that puts the financial squeeze on the city’s heaviest water users.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

The risks of cheap water

This summer, California’s water authority declared that wasting water — hosing a sidewalk, for example — was a crime. Next door, in Nevada, Las Vegas has paid out $200 million over the last decade for homes and businesses to pull out their lawns.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Water for Coachella Valley farms untouched by drought

One of the most extreme droughts in California’s history has been hitting agriculture hard, forcing cutbacks in water deliveries in parts of the Central Valley and leaving more than 400,000 acres of farmland fallow and dry.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Daily News

Commentary: What’s the best way to price residential water? Question of the Week

If the severe drought gripping California continues much longer, there’s a good chance that many of the Golden State’s residences will be assigned a daily allocation of water and then charged extra for exceeding that amount.

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Daily water allocation could be the next California drought strategy

You probably know your Social Security number, your driver’s license number and perhaps the latest wrinkle in mattress marketing, your sleep number. But do you know your drought number?

Western Water Magazine

Ante Up: Funding California’s Water
May/June 2014

This printed issue of Western Water looks at how water use is paid for and the push to make public financing more flexible.

Western Water Magazine

Are We Keeping Up With Water Infrastructure Needs?
January/February 2012

This printed issue of Western Water examines water infrastructure – its costs and the quest to augment traditional brick-and-mortar facilities with sleeker, “green” features.

Western Water Magazine

Dollars and Sense: How We Pay for Water
September/October 2009

This printed issue of Western Water examines the financing of water infrastructure, both at the local level and from the statewide perspective, and some of the factors that influence how people receive their water, the price they pay for it and how much they might have to pay in the future.

Western Water Magazine

Changing the Status Quo: The 2009 Water Package
January/February 2010

This printed issue of Western Water looks at some of the pieces of the 2009 water legislation, including the Delta Stewardship Council, the new requirements for groundwater monitoring and the proposed water bond.

Western Water Magazine

A ‘New Direction’ for Water Decisions? The California Water Plan
May/June 2010

This printed issue of Western Water examines the changed nature of the California Water Plan, some aspects of the 2009 update (including the recommendation for a water finance plan) and the reaction by certain stakeholders.

Western Water Magazine

Small Water Systems, Big Challenges
May/June 2008

This printed copy of Western Water examines the challenges facing small water systems, including drought preparedness, limited operating expenses and the hurdles of complying with costlier regulations. Much of the article is based on presentations at the November 2007 Small Systems Conference sponsored by the Water Education Foundation and the California Department of Water Resources.

Western Water Magazine

Viewing Water with a Wide Angle Lens: A Roundtable Discussion
January/February 2013

This printed issue of Western Water features a roundtable discussion with Anthony Saracino, a water resources consultant; Martha Davis, executive manager of policy development with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and senior policy advisor to the Delta Stewardship Council; Stuart Leavenworth, editorial page editor of The Sacramento Bee and Ellen Hanak, co-director of research and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.


Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (60-minute DVD)

Many Californians don’t realize that when they turn on the faucet, the water that flows out could come from a source close to home or one hundreds of miles away. Most people take their water for granted; not thinking about the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state. Where drinking water comes from, how it’s treated, and what people can do to protect its quality are highlighted in this 2007 PBS documentary narrated by actress Wendie Malick. 


Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (30-minute DVD)

A 30-minute version of the 2007 PBS documentary Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Dollars and Sense: How We Pay For Water
September/October 2009

It’s no secret that providing water in a state with the size and climate of California costs money. The gamut of water-related infrastructure – from reservoirs like Lake Oroville to the pumps and pipes that deliver water to homes, businesses and farms – incurs initial and ongoing expenses. Throw in a new spate of possible mega-projects, such as those designed to rescue the ailing Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and the dollar amount grows exponen­tially to billion-dollar amounts that rival the entire gross national product of a small country.