Town council presentation (October 27, 2015)

AVRWC - Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company

My name is Leigh Jordan and I’m the Executive Vice President of Apple Valley Ranchos.

At the August 25 Town Council meeting, after my comments to correct a statement made by Mr. Brown, I was asked a number of questions about drought surcharges. Mr. Bishop asked how many other water agencies in the state are charging drought surcharges. Mr. Nassif stated he did not know of any government agencies charging drought surcharges and would like to know if there were any.

At that time I did not have specifics. Ranchos’ decision to go to Stage 2 of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan, including drought surcharges, was based on Ranchos’ specific circumstances — not by just looking around and doing what the majority of other systems in the state are doing.

I’m here tonight with more specific answers to those questions. I have not checked every water provider in the state, but a quick internet search showed the following government water agencies implemented drought surcharges (in a few cases designated as Drought Penalties — but they function the same):

  • City of Tulare
  • Amador County Water Agency
  • East Bay Municipal Utilities District City of American Canyon
  • Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District City of Palo Alto
  • Coachella Valley Water District
  • Goleta Water District
  • City of Glendale
  • City of La Verne
  • Ventura River Water District
  • City of Azusa
  • Walnut Valley Water District
  • City of Roseville
  • Quartz Hill Water District

Lake Arrowhead CSD is currently proposing both a rate increase and drought surcharges for all residential customer usage, starting at $7.00 per CCF in Stage 3 (the current stage) and increasing over the next 5 years, with lesser amounts also proposed for Stages 1 & 2.

The Water District for Rancho Santa Fe is moving forward with a proposal to raise rates by 29.5%. The proposal also creates more tiers at lower CCF limits to increase rates for high users. And it calls for the creation of drought or water shortage rates, which would be an additional increase to maintain revenue during mandated conservation.

Government water agencies across the state are increasing rates and implementing surcharges to deal with increased costs and reduced revenues due to lower usage.

As the LA Times noted in an October 22nd article about LADWP’s proposed rate increase, As revenues drop, utilities still have to cover fixed costs. They have to keep paying employees and maintaining pipes, treatment facilities, aqueducts and reservoirs. A spokeswoman for the Association of California Water Agencies (whose members are all government) said, The reality is that rate increases, surcharges and other pricing adjustments are part of the drought story this year.

The fact that nearby cities have not implemented drought surcharges does not mean Ranchos is out of step with the situation. Only one of those cities is meeting its conservation target on a cumulative basis, and that one just barely. Since experts agree it is necessary to exceed the targets during the summer when usage is high, it remains to be seen whether those cities made the right decision — whether they will meet their targets or suffer substantial fines from the State.