East Bay Water District considering rate increase

- By Bay City News Service

East Bay water users could see rate hikes totaling nearly 20 percent over the next couple of years if the East Bay Municipal Utility District board approves them next month.

If approved, the increases would come in two installments -- one in fiscal year 2018 of 9.25 percent and one in fiscal year 2019 of 9 percent, according to EBMUD officials.

The average single-family residential bill would rise by $4.34 per month in 2018 and $4.63 per month in 2019.

Additionally, the average residential wastewater charge would increase by $0.96 per month in the first year and $1.06 in the second, according to information posted on the water district's website.

About 35 percent of the increase is required for the district's large capital improvement projects, 35 percent for operational and personnel costs and 30 percent to make up a projected revenue shortfall, according to
district spokeswoman Jenesse Miller.

"We did a very rigorous cost-of-service study that led to the proposed number," Miller said.

The rate hike is partly attributable to the region's conscientious reaction to the long drought.

During the state's latest dry spell, EBMUD customers' average monthly water use shrank from roughly 7,500 gallons to nearly 6,000 gallons, which has resulted in a projected $32 million revenue shortfall for fiscal
year 2018, according to district officials.

"The district is experiencing record low water sales as a result of the long drought, followed by lower outdoor water use due to continued customer conservation and above average precipitation," according to the
EBMUD website.

Also, the district needs the price hikes to help pay for its ongoing effort to replace its aging water-delivery system, which is comprised of 4,200 miles of pipes, some of which were installed 80 to 100 years ago,
according to Miller.

Over the next two years, for example, EBMUD plans to replace 30 miles of pipes at a cost of $2.7 million a mile, Miller said.

The district also needs the money from rate increases for maintenance and upgrade costs for its reservoirs, pumping plants and water treatment plants, among other system costs. 

Additionally, EBMUD has experienced large numbers of retirements and is coming out of a hiring freeze, both of which have left jobs to fill, Miller said.

"We need to backfill and staff up again," Miller said.

The EBMUD board is expected to hold a public hearing on the district's two-year, $2.03 billion budget proposal at 1 p.m. on July 11 at its headquarters at 375 11th Street in Oakland.

If approved, the rate increases will go into effect on July 12 and would apply to all of the district's 1.4 million residential, commercial and industrial customers.

For more information about the budget and rate increase proposal, EBMUD customers can go to
http://www.ebmud.com/customers/billing-questions/rates-and-charges/.
   

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