60% water-rate hike approved in Milpitas despite homeowners' opposition

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City leaders in Milpitas approved a 60-percent water-rate hike next year despite strong opposition from homeowners. 35-year Milpitas resident Ava DeCarlo said she's already doing all she can to conserve water. She has no grass on her lawn and she limits her water use.

"We are limiting our showers to five minutes or less. We are washing one week, every week and a half. I've got lots of clothes," said DeCarlo.

The 60-year-old parent educator said it's tough enough to pay her utilities given her fixed income, but now she'll have to cut back even more.

"Between PG&E, and the water and the garbage bill some of us are paying a third of our incomes that's crazy. That's incredulous," said DeCarlo.

The city expects an average household to see a $10 increase in April. On top of that in July, there will be another $15 increase per month.

"I would expect other water retailers in the Bay Area to need to raise their rates very similar to what we've been doing," said Milpitas City Engineer Steven Machida.

Machida said the city had no choice, but to raise rates given its two wholesales, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the Santa Valley Water District raised their rates. The city is paying 48 percent more.

There's also added costs to repair an aging water infrastructure. Some pipes are 60 years old.

"Their prices have gone up as a result of the drought and some of their operations as a result we see a higher rate and we have to pass our increased costs to our customers as well," said Machida.

DeCarlo said she understands the water crisis. She doesn't like having to bite the bullet on this one.

"I'm going to conserve just like I've been conserving because we are running out of water in Calfornia," said DeCarlo. "We don't have any."