Water bill for many Bay Area customers may rise

OAKLAND (KTVU) -- Many of the largest Bay Area water districts are considering imposing rate hikes this year despite a winter of soaking rainfall.

The East Bay Municipal Utilities District, Santa Clara Water District and the Marin Municipal Water District are all proposing rate increases that range from about 6 to 9 percent.

And the San Francisco Public Utiliites Commission has a built in rate hike for this year, but is considering further increases next year.

The Marin water district is planning on raising water rates 14 percent over the next two years, which amounts to an $84 a year increase for the average user.

Many customers are dumbfounded.

"There's plenty of water," customer Deborah Smith said. "Why should we be charged for something we have plenty of."

"our reservoirs are flowing," said Steven Stompanato. "Why do we need more money flowing into the water district?"

The water agency says during heavy rains or drought, the district still has a water system to maintain. The system maintenance costs money.

"You are paying for us to collect the water, store the water, treat it and deliver it through a series of 900 miles of pipeline through Marin County," said Lon Peterson, a spokesman for Marin Municipal Water District.

Final decisons on rate hikes are expected in May and would be effective July 1.

While the water district applauds its customers' conservation efforts, less water use means less money coming into the water district.

"We are currently rebuilding our calaveras dam and we are doing it with ratepayer dollars," said said Charles Sheehan, spokesman for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. "That's what their increases pay for, infrastrructure upgrades."

By KTVU reporter Rob Roth

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