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.
The current five members of the Montecito Water Board ran as slate candidates in 2016 and 2108, and they won election largely on the promise of recycling treated wastewater for irrigation. A group of wealthy donors poured $200,000 into their campaigns. Yet the new board seems in no hurry to get the job done.
Some 22,000 California American Water customers in Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park and Camarillo are getting far lower rate increases than the company proposed in 2016, saving several million dollars a year combined. Thousand Oaks officials said this week that instead of being hit with a 32.1% hike over three years that the company wanted to impose and which the city actively opposed, customers only got a fraction of that.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer unveiled his proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 on Thursday, saying it includes the highest infrastructure investment in the city’s history. … The budget includes an infrastructure investment of $715.8 million, an increase of nearly 300% over the $179.4 million infrastructure allocation in the city’s fiscal year 2014 budget … More than half of that is earmarked for the city’s Pure Water program, which aims to recycle sewage into drinking water.
A Superior Court judge recently ruled in favor of the city of San Juan Capistrano, as the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit seeking millions in water rate refunds have been barred from moving the case forward. … The lawsuit stemmed from the city’s 2015 approval to issue refunds to customers who overpaid for water under San Juan’s previous tiered water rates, which the Fourth District Court of Appeals had affirmed as unconstitutional in April 2015.
Most states don’t tax milk, bread, fruit or vegetables because they are essential to human life. Food tax exemptions have been in place since the Great Depression, part of a social covenant formed to help the neediest afford life’s essentials. But Democratic Sen. William Monning of Carmel is leading an effort to tax something even more essential than groceries. Tax bills now under consideration seek to tax the water we use in our homes.
San Jose Water, the local water company, recently sent out a public notice saying it wants to impose a year-long surcharge beginning this summer. The reason? To recover what it described as an “under-collection” of more than $9 million in fixed costs. … In other words, thank you for following the rules and limiting your water usage, but that’s hurt our bottom line, so we’ll be sending you a bill.
As the Marin Municipal Water District gears up to consider another rate and fee hike this year, some of the public debate has turned to whether the district is paying too much in salaries and benefits to its employees.
The water tax will require a two-thirds vote in each house. Democrats have that and a little to spare. Still, the governor will need to use all his power of cajolery and coercion to win passage of any tax increase.
Behind every toilet flush and faucet turn that draws on a public water system, there’s an entire industry making sure the water meets certain standards. … But McKeon and others in the field worry about a looming shortage of water-treatment plant operators, as a wave of older operators hits retirement age. McKeon fears that in the next 10 years, there won’t be enough operators to monitor and control every public water system adequately.
Rate increases are being proposed in part to help pay for improvements to the Regional Wastewater Control Facility, which is set to go through the first phase of a modification project aimed at extending the life of existing amenities at the plant. The modification project will also improve working conditions for employees, and bring the site into compliance with national pollutant discharge standards.
After a seven-year drought finally came to an end this winter, California has been hit with a deluge of vibrant greenery and super blooms. But we’re still keeping an eye out for how to make our own backyards more sustainable and water-friendly.
The Santa Clara Valley Water District, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority all recognize the importance of curbing urban sprawl, encouraging farm-to-fork enterprises, and providing open space for urban dwellers through various policies. However, well-meaning changes may have unintended consequences, putting these goals in jeopardy.
Customers of the South Tahoe Public Utility District (STPUD) may be looking at an annual increase on their water and sewer bills of 5.0 to 8.5 percent to cover costs of replacing aging infrastructure and enhancing local fire protection.
The view from my window here in central California is of a front lawn almost as dried out as the fairways at Carnoustie, Scotland. Like many of my neighbours I’m concerned about climate change and with it the exorbitant price of water. After my monthly bill tripled, I decided it was time for a new strategy. I shut down the sprinkler system and tested a new aesthetic. To my delight, I discovered that brown is beautiful.
Feasibility of a potential public buyout of California American Water’s local water system should be based on a consulting team’s advice on an acquisition plan that could succeed in a public necessity court trial while seeking cost savings for local ratepayers… That’s according to a recommendation from Monterey Peninsula Water Management District general manager Dave Stoldt to be considered on Monday.
The San Diego County Water Authority’s General Manager notified the region’s water board on Wednesday that she is retiring. Maureen Stapleton has held the top job at the agency for more than two decades. She led the Water Authority through the complicated settlement negotiations surrounding the Colorado River. Stapleton also encouraged projects like the Carlsbad Desalination plant as a way to diversify the region’s water supply.
San Diego’s water department is going through the second major shakeup in less than a year. At least five senior officials are out, including one who once tried to waive off an audit of the city’s troubled “smart” meter program. In January 2018, the department’s assistant director, Lee Ann Jones-Santos, said auditing the city’s effort to replace 280,000 water meters might make that $70 million program look bad.
Newsom has embraced an idea that has previously failed to gain traction in Sacramento: new taxes totaling as much as $140 million a year for a clean drinking water initiative. Much of it would be spent on short- and long-term solutions for low-income communities without the means to finance operations and maintenance for their water systems. … But the money to change that — what’s being called a “water tax” in state Capitol circles — is where the politics get complicated.
Redlands’ wastewater treatment facility needs $40 million in upgrades soon thanks to years of deferred maintenance, officials say. But it could be worse – building a new facility would cost $100 million. The original plant was built in the 1960s, and the last major changes were made in 2004.
Of the handful of speakers at the California Water Service hearing Tuesday, none supported the proposed rate increases for Chico, objecting to high costs, compensation to high-level executives and profit made by shareholders.
American Canyon will continue looking to the proposed, massive Sites reservoir in Colusa County to someday help slake its thirst. The city of about 20,000 residents is the only Napa County city without a local reservoir. It depends on the state’s North Bay Aqueduct that pumps water out of Barker Slough, a dead-end slough in the Solano County portion of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The new report, “Sustainable Landscapes on Commercial and Industrial Properties in the Santa Ana River Watershed,” explores how landscape conversion on commercial and industrial properties can reduce water use, increase stormwater capture and groundwater recharge, improve water quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pesticide use.
Water sustainability continues to be a complex issue and will require young, innovative minds to tackle it. This was the theme of the 2019 Innovators High Desert Water Summit, held Friday at High Desert Church. Hosted by the Mojave Water Agency, the event was titled “How Generation Z Will Save the Future of Water in California.” About 320 students, parents, and teachers from schools all over San Bernardino County attended.
Martinez City Council agreed Wednesday to start the process of revising it water rates to make its fee system “defensible.” Many residential customers would see increases as a result, although a few customers with large meters will see their rates decline,
Questions about financial liability and concerns over weighted votes among member agencies of the Central Coast Water Authority prompted the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors to take no action on transferring the state water contract to that joint-powers agency. … CCWA has been trying to have the contract reassigned since it was formed in 1991, but the Department of Water Resources would not agree to the request because it was unclear if a joint-powers agency could levy a property tax if a member defaulted on financial obligations.
San Juan Capistrano is looking to unload its water utility, as maintaining the system is expected to become costly for the community. The city is one of very few in south Orange County that manages its own water operations. After a 10-month review of the options, the City Council discussed on Tuesday, Feb. 5, which agency – Moulton Niguel Water District, Santa Margarita Water District and South Coast Water District – the city should enter into an exclusive negotiation agreement to acquire its water system.
Different from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s water tax proposal to fix decaying water systems in poor communities, the proposal before the State Water Board is focused on providing water service rate relief for California residents struggling to make ends meet. It is modeled after existing programs that offer low-income assistance rates for electricity and gas service.
Low-income Californians can get help with their phone bills, their natural gas bills and their electric bills. But there’s only limited help available when it comes to water bills.
That could change if the recommendations of a new report are implemented into law. Drafted by the State Water Resources Control Board, the report outlines the possible components of a program to assist low-income households facing rising water bills.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed state budget recently included a drinking water tax that would cost Santa Clarita homeowners 95 cents per month to help disadvantaged communities clean up contaminated water sources. Santa Clarita residents paying the tax would see their water bill increase by $11.40 per year if the proposal is approved.
In September of 2018, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released the report, “Managing Drought in a Changing Climate: Four Essential Reforms”, which asserted there are five climate pressures affecting California’s water… The report recommends four policy reforms: Plan ahead, upgrade the water grid, update water allocation rules, and find the money.
San Diego is in the midst of spending roughly $3 billion on a massive new water treatment system, but city officials can’t or won’t tell customers how that will affect their water bills. New water recycling plants will eventually purify enough sewage to provide a third of the city’s drinking water. In December, Voice of San Diego asked the city to estimate how much customers’ bills will increase because of the Pure Water project. The city, after weeks of delay, finally declined last week to offer any estimate because “there is no simple calculation” they could perform.
Terms were revealed this week for a developing water sales agreement between the Montecito Water District and City of Santa Barbara. The 50-year water sales agreement provides 1,430 acre-feet of water a year to Montecito, at a cost of about $2,700 per acre-foot. The terms of agreement allow for the possibility to purchase and receive 445 acre-feet of additional water each year.
Water well owners in Sonoma County may get billed for their annual water usage under a proposed water-conservation plan up for discussion next week at a community meeting in Santa Rosa. The Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) is hosting the Jan. 30 meeting to hear feedback on its proposed “groundwater sustainability fee,” which would provide funding to support the new agency.
A long-standing feud over who should pay a $650 million bill for state water infrastructure reared its head Tuesday, as board members of Santa Clara County’s regional water district weighed whether to raise water bills or ramp up reliance on property taxes.
Doing surgery on San Francisco’s water system is no simple task. Replacing one mile of distribution main costs about $3.8 million dollars. That’s just the direct cost of installing a section of drinking water pipe. There are also side effects: disruptions to traffic, sidewalks, and businesses when streets are pried open. In one of the nation’s densest and highest-cost cities the expense amounts to an incentive for well-informed decisions about what to dig up and when.
The Alameda County Water District is proposing to raise customers’ bills 8 percent over the next two years to cover infrastructure costs as well as salary increases, benefits and pensions for its employees. The district also wants to create an emergency pricing schedule that kicks in during water shortages, such as in droughts.
The budget specifically calls out funding for Safe and Affordable Drinking Water. It discusses the need to find a stable funding source for long-term operation and maintenance of drinking water systems in disadvantaged communities, stating that existing loan and grant programs are limited to capital improvements.
A proposed Colorado River drought plan that will cost well over $100 million is just the beginning of what’s needed to protect the over-allocated river, says Bruce Babbitt, the former governor who rammed through Arizona’s last big water legislation nearly four decades ago. After Gov. Doug Ducey urged legislators to “do the heavy lifting” and pass the proposed drought-contingency plan for the Colorado, Babbitt said Monday that authorities will have to start discussing a much longer-term plan immediately after it’s approved.
Nasdaq, along with Veles Water and WestWater Research, has announced the launch of the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index (NQH2O), the first of its kind water index that benchmarks the price of water in a way that supports price discovery and enables the creation of a tradable financial instrument.
California’s failure to provide safe, affordable drinking water to the remaining roughly 1% of residents is probably the most solvable and affordable of California’s many difficult water problems. There will always be isolated small systems with vexing problems, but the number of Californians currently without access to safe affordable drinking water is embarrassing and irresponsibly high.
In a 5-3 vote Wednesday that — intriguingly — fell along gender lines, the Phoenix City Council approved an increase in water rates, starting next month. “I thank the women to have the leadership and courage to do the right thing. 5-3,” Interim Mayor Thelda Williams said. … Wednesday’s vote overturned the council’s previous rejection of the proposed increase, on December 12, that was also 5-3.
Tackling what promises to be a controversial issue, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a tax on drinking water Thursday to help disadvantaged communities clean up contaminated water systems. Newsom’s plan for a “safe and affordable drinking water fund,” included in the new governor’s first budget proposal, attempts to revive an idea that died in the Legislature last year.
To subsidize drinking water bills for poor households, California regulators recommend new taxes on bottled water and incomes above $1 million a year, according to a draft proposal released by the State Water Resources Control Board. If the $606 million proposal, or an alternate version, is accepted by the Legislature, California would be the first state in the country to run a water bill assistance program.
The State Water Resources Control Board will accept public comments on the draft report on Options for Implementation of a Statewide Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program. The report analyzes options for the design, funding, and administration of a program as well as other options to improve water affordability. Comments are due Feb. 1.
A new study out of Stanford University finds that 10 percent of the total carbon dioxide spewed from California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho for power generation this century is the result of states turning to fossil fuels when water was too sparse to spin electrical turbines at dams.
State utility regulators have not provided the public clear information about water-rate increases or made sure that suppliers notified customers about hearings related to those rate hikes, a new state audit has found. The California Public Utilities Commission also failed to conduct audits of private water utilities as required by law, according to findings released Tuesday by the California State Auditor.
Palm Desert resident Randy Roberts filed a class-action lawsuit against the Coachella Valley Water District on Dec. 3, claiming the cash-rich agency is illegally taxing non-agricultural homeowners and businesses and has diverted more than $60 million to fund projects that often benefit large farmers. … Roberts, a longtime critic of the water district, charges it has violated state voter-approved laws, including Prop. 13 and Prop. 218, and the constitution.
In the universe of California water, Tim Quinn is a professor emeritus. Quinn has seen — and been a key player in — a lot of major California water issues since he began his water career 40 years ago as a young economist with the Rand Corporation, then later as deputy general manager with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and finally as executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies. In December, the 66-year-old will retire from ACWA.
An offer last week by the San Diego County Water Authority board chairman to settle a host of litigation with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California was not well received by water officials to the north. MWD leaders accused their San Diego counterparts of violating an agreement to negotiate in private and abruptly canceled a meeting previously scheduled for Tuesday.
San Diego County water officials, who have been mired in legal disputes with their counterparts to the north over billions of dollars in rates and methodology, proposed a sweeping compromise Thursday that, if accepted, could end years of acrimony and expensive litigation.
If water were priced according to demand, many Westerners would be smelly and thirsty. But water is a necessity, and demand-based pricing would be unethical. … In California, for example, state law Proposition 218 outlaws water prices that are higher than the cost of providing water.
A state commission will formally consider whether the San Jose Water Company has over-billed customers by millions of dollars for years. On Friday, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announced that it had opened an investigation into the company’s billing practices after a staff report suggested that for at least 30 years, San Jose Water failed to pro-rate bills when a change in service charges went into effect in the middle of a billing cycle.
When customers started complaining early last year about spiking water bills, authorities downplayed the situation. Water department officials repeatedly said that leaky toilets, broken sprinklers and the rising cost of water were likely to blame, even as customer complaints flooded into the agency’s public hotline for months.
Critical permits and legal challenges are still pending, and some farming groups still haven’t committed to paying for part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial $17 billion Delta tunnels project. But even with the uncertainty, backers of the project are poised to ask the Trump administration for a $1.6 billion federal loan that millions of Californians ultimately would have to repay through increases in their water bills.
Recognizing that complying with federal requirements can cause water utilities to raise rates, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) introduced a bill this week aimed at helping low-income households pay their bills.
In contrast to the federal government’s chronic underinvestment in the pipes, pumps, and plants that supply and treat the nation’s drinking water, America’s large cities are forging ahead with fresh spending to modernize their systems. … The largest price increases occurred in California, where major utilities are in a construction frenzy to cleanse dirty water for reuse, gird pipes against earthquakes, and respond to water-supply vulnerabilities that were exposed during the five-year drought that ended last year.
Tracking how much Americans spend on infrastructure starts with defining the sector. In this case, we mean the essential services related to public works: water and sewer, electricity and gas, transportation, telephone, and broadband.
The day of reckoning is drawing near for Huntington Beach’s long-planned desalination plant, which would help quench Orange County’s thirst with sea water and free up imported water for the rest of the Southern California. Twenty years and $50 million into the process, officials with plant purveyor Poseidon are optimistic they will get their final two permits — possibly by year’s end.
Water bills in San Francisco are set to rise steadily over the next four years, after the approval of a rate schedule by the city’s Public Utilities Commission. … In addition to funding the commission’s regular operations, the rate increases will pay for a series of ambitious infrastructure upgrades to the city’s sewer system and vast Hetch Hetchy network that sends drinking water to 2.7 million Bay Area residents.
The Tahoe-Truckee area’s water agencies say they oppose a budget trailer bill that is part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2018-19 budget. The bill, according to the Association of California Water Agencies, is essentially a modified form of State Bill 623, dubbed the “Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fee.”
When the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California voted to finance the lion’s share of the delta tunnels project, some on the board called it a bold stroke of leadership. The delegations from Los Angeles and San Diego, however, called the move alarming, financially risky and irresponsible.
As part of his final budget proposal, Gov. Jerry Brown wants new fees on water to provide clean and affordable drinking water to the approximately 1 million Californians who are exposed to contaminated water in their homes and communities each year. … About 100 state residents who lack access to clean drinking water will head to the Capitol today and join with several lawmakers to support Brown’s proposal …
Max Gomberg, the State Water Resources Control Board’s climate and conservation manager, says the price of water has increased at six times the rate of inflation across the state. Gomberg’s agency is currently drafting a set of recommendations that will help the state legislature develop a financial assistance program for residents with soaring water rates.
Hundreds of frustrated and angry residents turned out Thursday night for a city-held public forum at Mira Mesa Senior Center to address surging water bills — a long-simmering controversy that has now reached a boiling point.
Citing the need for more deliberation, California regulators delayed publication of a report that will outline their preferred plan to fund and manage a statewide program to help poor residents pay their water bills. As water rates increase in the United States, governments and utilities are exploring new forms of financial aid.
America is facing a water infrastructure crisis. … Investing more in the country’s water infrastructure would help—which the Trump administration and other federal leaders appear to be considering in 2018—but simply throwing more money at these problems does not necessarily address another enormous challenge facing utilities and the communities they serve: water affordability.
All utilities, to varying degrees, shut off water service to households who do not pay bills. Shutoffs, utilities argue, are an essential tool for maintaining financial health. They are the leverage that ensures payment. The universe of U.S. water utilities is vast and varied. There are more than 50,000 systems that serve 15 or more people year-round.
Utilities from California to Florida are seeing their expenses drop dramatically with the GOP tax overhaul, which could save these regulated electric, gas and water utilities billions of dollars each year. … California is home to numerous investor-owned utilities, ranging from Pacific Gas & Electric to private water companies.
The California Public Utilities Commission has amended its long-standing mission statement, leaving out the idea of ensuring “reasonable rates” for the water and power used by the public. … Spokeswoman Terrie Prosper said the change has not affected the commission’s dedication to making sure water and power costs are affordable for California consumers.
A Native American tribe in Northern California was appalled last month when Shasta County demanded an extra $1,000 in penalties for their water bill. Thirty members of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, ranging in age from 1 to 70 years old, live in a cluster of trailers on 42 acres of land that is zoned for a single household.
The California Supreme Court effectively brought to end this week a longstanding, bitter fight between water managers in Los Angeles and San Diego — a ruling that means the loss of billions in potential savings for local ratepayers.
The San Diego County Water Authority has lost a major legal battle to reduce the price of San Diego’s water. For years, San Diego water officials argued the region’s major supplier of water, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, charges too much to deliver water to San Diego from the Colorado River.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of households earning less than $US 15,000 per year grew more between 2000 and 2015 than any equivalent segment of the income distribution. At the same time water rates, driven by the cost to maintain or replace water treatment plants and delivery pipes, are rising at double or triple the rate of inflation.
As California water agencies prepare to vote next month on paying for the tunnels, which are supposed to improve water deliveries to the southern half of the state, the stark difference between urban and rural water users’ expected costs illustrates one of the project’s main stumbling blocks.
More than 6 million Southern Californian households could pay $3 more a month to help cover the costs of Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial plan to bore two huge tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 …
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.