November 27, 2012 > Water District proposes rate increase
Water District proposes rate increase
Submitted By Frank Jahn
The Alameda County Water District has announced a proposed increase in its bimonthly service charge. The increase would help fund projects that would seismically retrofit critical water mains and replace aging pipelines that deliver potable water to Tri-City homes and businesses. These projects are needed to help ensure long- term water supply reliability and fire protection after a major earthquake.
The proposed rate increase would result in an overall water bill increase of about 24.5 cents per day (17.1%), or $7.47 per month for the average residential customer.
Under the proposal, the service charge for all customers would double while the commodity charge would remain unchanged. The service charge is intended to recover costs that do not vary with water consumption, such as maintenance and replacement of pipelines and other infrastructure, and water quality monitoring and testing. Even with the proposed increase, the District's service charge would still fall below the average of 30 other Bay Area water agencies. In addition, ACWD's overall rates would still be among the lowest in the Bay Area.
To help balance the financial impact on customers, no increase is proposed for the commodity charge, which is based on the amount of water used. The commodity charge would remain at $3.152 per unit (one unit is equivalent to 748 gallons).
"Tri-City residents have invested substantially in securing reliable water supplies to meet the needs of our community," said John Weed, ACWD Board president. "These investments paid off during the last drought, when mandatory water rationing was averted. With improvements to our local network of pipelines, ACWD will be able to better assure the delivery of water after a major earthquake."
In response to a 2008 seismic vulnerability assessment which identified the possibility of catastrophic water loss in the event of an earthquake, ACWD developed plans for the Main Replacement and Seismic Retrofit programs. These programs, which would be funded in part through the proposed rate increase, will help to maintain adequate water flows for fire protection and reduce water service disruptions after a major earthquake by replacing aging pipelines and seismically retrofitting strategic pipelines along the Hayward Fault.
"We recognize that we cannot ask our customers to pay more for their water without the District first taking steps to control existing costs," said ACWD General Manager Walt Wadlow. "Toward that end, over the past several years, the District has: secured over $2.6 million in grants; saved over $7 million by leveraging our excellent AAA credit rating to issue revenue bonds to refinance existing debt; and taken advantage of our customers' water conservation efforts by minimizing purchases of the District's most expensive imported water supply."
The proposed increase in the bimonthly service charge will be on the agenda for the December 13 Board meeting to enable customers to provide input. The meeting will start at 6 p.m. at ACWD Headquarters at 43885 South Grimmer Boulevard in Fremont. In addition, a public hearing on the proposed increase will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, January 10, 2013 also in the Board Room at ACWD Headquarters.
ACWD supplies drinking water to the more than 331,000 people living in the cities of Fremont, Newark, and Union City. For more information, please visit www.acwd.org.
ACWD rate increase discussions:
Thursday, Dec 13
Thursday, Jan 10
43885 So. Grimmer Blvd., Fremont