Water Prices to Jump in Placer County
"Water bills increase by an average 9.1 percent next year and 3.7 percent in 2015"
AUBURN -- Directors of the Placer County Water Agency on Thursday (Aug. 8) approved a water rate increase for the Zone 1 service area. PCWA Zone 1 includes the cities of Auburn, Loomis, Rocklin, Lincoln, a portion of Roseville, and surrounding unincorporated communities in western Placer County. The adjustments are the first in five years and take effect Jan. 1, 2014.
Zone 1 is supplied with up to 100,400 acre-feet of water per year which flows from the Yuba-Bear river watershed that is purchased from Pacific Gas and Electric's (PG&E) water system by PCWA.
PCWA General Manager David A. Breninger said rate increases are needed to cover significant increases in PCWA's Zone 1 wholesale costs to purchase water from the PG&E, along with other increasing costs of providing reliable public water service. PCWA is currently paying about $200,000 per year for Zone 1 water. Under the terms of the new wholesale water contract negotiated with PG&E, this amount will rise to $3 million in 2014 and to $4 million in 2015. Future increases will be based on an inflationary factor. The new wholesale contract was negotiated over several months and replaces a 1968 contract that expired earlier this year.
"This has been a long and agonizing process for our staff and board," said Breninger, referring to negotiations with PG&E. "We realize that this increase is going to be sticker shock to our customers and we highly regret this."
"The water agency has a fiduciary responsibility to maintain the water system in good working order and to adequately fund all costs for services," said PCWA Director of Financial Services Joseph Parker, who presented a staff report on the rate proposal.
Under the new schedule, all Zone 1 treated water and untreated canal water customers will see their water bills increase by an average 9.1 percent next year and 3.7 percent in 2015. Should the Consumer Price Index or cost of service increase, adjustments will occur from 2015-2018.
For a PCWA treated water user with a standard 5/8-inch water meter, the monthly fixed rate will increase next year from $14.20 to $15.80, the renewal and replacement component will rise from $13.00 to $14.75 and the current quantity rate for tiered consumption will increase from the current range of $1.25-$2.16 to $1.33-$2.30.
Parker said that a typical PCWA treated water customer will pay an average of $5.93 more per month in the winter and an average of $8.36 more per month in the summer when water usage is generally higher.
A canal water customer using a 1 miners' inch service will pay $55.92 per month for summer service in 2014, up from $51.44. The rate for winter service will increase from $62.18 to $67.59.
The rate adjustments have been under study since May and the process followed the State's Proposition 218 guidelines. Notices were mailed to more than 38,000 customers, advertisements were placed in local media, notices were included in the agency newsletter and website, and staff offered presentations to cities and other organizations.
Director of Customer Services Matt Young said the agency received about 100 telephone inquiries. The Clerk of the Board received 27 valid written protests of the proposed increase.
The board's unanimous approval followed a detailed staff presentation and public hearing on the need for rate adjustments. The public hearing attracted an audience of about two dozen people, nine of whom addressed the board.
Customers with questions about PCWA's water rates are welcome to contact the PCWA Customer Services Center at (530) 823-4850 or (800) 464-0030.
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