The Calaveras County Water District Board of Directors meets March 28 to consider approving staff recommendations for a new five-year rate plan, and notify consumers of that decision in accordance with Proposition 218. Among other provisions, that proposition requires advance notice of any water district rate changes so that ratepayers can respond before any rate changes become final.
The proposed rate increase will have the greatest impact upon residential Tier 1 users who consume 1,000 cubic feet of water or less during each two-month billing period. Tiers 1 and 2 represent the largest number of customers in the district. Tier 1 users would see the highest overall increases in their water costs during the five-year period during which these rate changes are phased in for all users.
Tier 1 users currently pay a flat fee every two months for all water use up to 1,000 cubic feet. The proposed plan continues the flat fee at a slightly reduced amount in the first year, but that fee increases to more than the current amount each year after that over the five-year period. The proposed plan also implements a consumption charge for every cubic foot of water used. Therefore, Tier 1 customers who use the full 1,000 cubic feet of water currently allotted every other month can expect each bill to be about 8.5 percent higher than it was in the past.
CCWD staff reports that the average household consumes about 1,200 cubic feet of water every two months, though the amount may vary based on season and location.
A 1,200-cubic-foot user who falls into Tier 2 can expect a 7.7 percent increase in each bill during the first year. Because the cubic foot usage charges as well as the flat fee both increase each year during the five-year period for all users, the percentage increases over current rates that the Tier 1 and Tier 2 users will experience each year if they use the same amount of water will exceed the 8.5 percent and 7.7 percent first-year increases. In other words, because rates will go up for those users each year for the same amount of water used, each additional year will represent a higher percentage increase over current rates.
Current consumption rates for larger water users in all tiers other than Tier 1 will decrease in the first year in the proposed plan, then increase during each of the following years until 2023, but the consumption changes will involve smaller rate increases. For example, households in Tier 2 that consume 3,000 cubic feet every other month will see an increase of only 2.5 percent in the first year.
Nonresidential and irrigation or landscape consumers currently pay the same consumption rates per cubic foot as residential consumers, but all users above Tier 1 will see their annual consumption rates per cubic foot of water remain below the consumption rates they currently pay throughout the entire five-year period. That is because most of those cubic foot rates will go down in the first year, then up slightly for each year thereafter, but never to a level as high as current cubic foot rates.
Consumers are encouraged to attend the board meeting to raise questions or concerns during the public comment session. A series of town hall meetings will be scheduled to discuss these changes. Information about upcoming meetings will be posted on flyers, social media and at ccwd.org.