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December 2, 2011 > Water District considers rate increases for 2012

Water District considers rate increases for 2012

Submitted By Frank Jahn

Alameda County Water District staff has proposed rate increases that, if adopted by the Board, would help to fund projects needed to ensure reliable water delivery in the Tri-City area.

The consumption and service charge rate increases would result in an increase of about 10.7 cents per day (approximately 8%) for the average residential customer using 23 units of water bimonthly (about 283 gallons per day) and with a 5/8 or 3/4 inch meter.

"ACWD customers understand the importance of investing in our diverse water supply portfolio," said ACWD General Manager Walt Wadlow. "As a result of investments made by the District, mandatory rationing was not necessary during the last drought. But without improvements to our aging local water delivery system," Wadlow went on to say, "moving water to homes and businesses will become more and more problematic. The proposed rate increases will help to fund projects that will improve ACWD's ability to provide a reliable water supply, especially critical for fire protection and after earthquakes."

The proposed increases include a 6% increase in the water commodity rate. This rate would increase from $2.974 to $3.152 per unit (one unit is equivalent to 748 gallons). They also include a 19% increase in the bimonthly service charge (which is based on the size of the meter serving the property). The bimonthly charge would increase by $2.38 (from $12.55 to $14.93) for customers with a meter size of 5/8 or 3/4 inches. Even with this increase, the District's service charge would still rank among the lowest of 30 other Bay Area water agencies as shown in the chart below.

In addition to helping to fund needed local infrastructure improvements, the proposed increases are required to maintain existing service levels by:

* Funding major capital projects needed to comply with public health and environmental standards.
* Providing adequate funding to cover the District's fixed costs.
* Recovering the cost of rising prices for purchased water and other operating expenses.

Among other factors, the proposed increases were moderated through:

* Deferring capital projects, where possible, in response to projected lower demands.
* Maximizing productivity through the implementation of more efficient work practices.
* Utilizing interagency collaboration to share costs.
* Securing grants and reimbursements.

"Nobody likes rate increases, especially in hard economic times," noted ACWD Manager of Finance Shelley Burgett. "We're proud, however, that our cost controls have helped to keep ACWD's water rates among the lowest in the Bay Area, while at the same time enabling us to offer the exceptional level of service our customers have come to expect."

ACWD welcomes comments and input on the proposed rate increases. A public hearing on the increases will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, January 12, 2012 in the Board Room at ACWD headquarters, 43885 South Grimmer Boulevard, Fremont.

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