The Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) board of directors today approved domestic water rate increases and rate structure changes, the first rate increases for domestic water since 2010.
The board approved the new rates after listening to more than two hours of comments at today’s public hearing. The board also approved a different plan than originally proposed. The board chose a plan with lower fixed rates that will not go into effect until October and will be reviewed before then. Volumetric rate increases and changes to the way household water budgets are calculated will go into effect July 1.
The rate changes are based on a comprehensive Cost of Service Study and national industry standards. The board approved the rates after careful consideration of comments from members of the public, HOA managers and business leaders at today's public hearing, at multiple public workshops held in March, April and May and through written comments and emails.
CVWD worked to raise awareness of the proposed rate changes by mailing Proposition 218 brochures to all record owners of property upon which the charges would be imposed and any tenants who are directly liable for the payment of those charges. In addition to the public workshops, CVWD staff made presentations to city councils and conducted a public education campaign.
The historic drought and state-mandated conservation are factors that encouraged changes to the water budget-based rate structure. In addition, CVWD is facing the largest capital improvement project in its history, responding to the state's new drinking water standard for chromium-6. The most cost-effective solution is projected to cost approximately $250 million in capital expenses, plus ongoing operation and maintenance costs. Ongoing capital improvement also is needed to protect the drinking water system to ensure it can meet the drinking water needs of approximately 318,000 residents daily.
The new volumetric water rates are $.95 for water use in Tier 1; $1.32 for water use in Tier 2; $2.46 for water use in Tier 3; $4.67 for water use in Tier 4; and $6.13 for water use in Tier 5. Fixed rates vary by customer class and are available at www.cvwd.org/ratechanges
Some of the changes to the monthly water budgets include:
The overall impact of these changes is a reduction in water budgets of approximately 25%, which promotes conservation but is less restrictive than the previous, temporary drought budgets.
A key component of the water budget is the weather. It allows the water budget to increase during hotter months and decrease during cooler months. CVWD will now change from actual weather to historical, thereby allowing for water budgets to be calculated in advance and providing a monthly target for customers. Budgets will also continue to be adjusted based on the length of the billing cycle.
The fixed rate increases, effective Oct. 1 with prior board review, provide for greater revenue stability. In addition, the Cost of Service Study determined that different fixed rates should be established for different types of customers in order to reflect the true cost of service and promote financial stability. Fixed rates will vary based on the size of the meter and the type of customer. Separate classes will now be in effect for fixed rates including for single family homes, multifamily residences, commercial customers, and dedicated landscape meters.
Another change to the overall rate structure is the consolidation of five geographic rate areas into one.
Additional information about the water rate changes including detail about the new rates for each customer class is available at www.cvwd.org/ratechanges . More information will also be sent to every customer in their July bills.
The Coachella Valley Water District is a public agency governed by a five-member board of directors. The district provides domestic and irrigation water, agricultural drainage, wastewater treatment and reclamation services, regional storm water protection, groundwater management and water conservation. It serves approximately 108,000 residential and business customers across 1,000 square miles, located primarily in Riverside County, but also in portions of Imperial and San Diego counties.