Water companies propose drought surcharges (May 26, 2015)

Apple Valley Ranchos, Golden State to hold public hearings

APPLE VALLEY — Apple Valley Ranchos and Golden State water companies are proposing drought surcharges for customers and have scheduled public hearings to present the stages of implementation and related charges.

The public hearing for Golden State customers is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Town of Apple Valley Conference Center, 14955 Dale Evans Parkway in Apple Valley. It will present the universal state drought restrictions and proposed local surcharge stages and pricing, flow-restrictor charges, the exemption and appeals process and special conditions.

The hearing for Apple Valley Ranchos customers is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. June 5 at Granite Hills High School, 22900 Esaws Ave. in Apple Valley.

Both companies, as well as other publicly regulated water utilities in California, are submitting advice letters to the California Public Utilities Commission proposing how they will implement water savings during the drought in the communities they serve.

The plans were prompted by emergency regulations ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown and adopted by the State Water Resources Control Board earlier this month.

We’re all forced into this, said Perry Dahlstrom, general manager of Golden State’s Mountain Desert District. We’ve been scrambling to figure it out.

The conservation percentage required by each water system and their customers is based on use from June 2013 through February 2014. Apple Valley Ranchos is mandated to reduce water use by 28 percent month-over-month and Golden State is at 25 percent.

One tool that water providers think may encourage cutbacks is a tier of surcharges beginning at Stage 2. For Apple Valley Ranchos, that would be for water overuse when compared to 2013’s monthly consumption. That would also apply for Golden State, but not beyond a household health and safety threshold of 800 cubic feet. One hundred cubic feet of water equals about 748 gallons.

Right now, one requirement under the emergency measures for Golden State is that residential outdoor irrigation be limited to two days a week or consumption is cut by 25 percent.

In Stage 1, both water providers propose assigning watering hours and days. No surcharges are requested under Stage 1 water conservation measures by either company.

Golden State proposes imposing a Stage 2 surcharge of $2.50 for each hundred cubic feet used over the customer allocation, $5 per ccf at Stage 3 and $10 at Stage 4.

Apple Valley Ranchos proposes a residential surcharge of the company’s Tier 1 rate at Stage 2, 1½ times the Tier 1 rate at Stage 3 and twice the Tier 1 rate at Stage 4.

The surcharge monies will be placed in segregated Water Revenue Adjustment Mechanism accounts for possible return to customers regionally as billing credits, Dahlstrom said.

Apple Valley Ranchos’ advice letter to the CPUC seeking the surcharges was due to be submitted Friday, General Manager Tony Penna said. Golden State’s plan was submitted May 12, Dahlstrom said.

Source: Gary Brodeur, Daily Press