EBMUD votes to raise water rates by nearly 20 percent

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The East Bay Municipal Utility District board voted to increase water rates by nearly 20 percent on Tuesday afternoon, over the objections many customers, including those who say it’s too much and is unfairly penalizing people who conserved during the drought.

Customers will start paying 9.25 percent as soon as Wednesday and another 9 percent in July 2018. Broken down into dollars and cents, the average household bill of $47.15 per month for 200 gallons per day will increase to $56.12 per month.

The first increase will add $4.34 per month, and a second increase effective July, 2018, would add another $4.64 per month.

Water district administrators argued the hike is needed as the district needs to fix aging pipes and infrastructure, upgrade water treatment plants, and offset a big financial hit that the district has taken because of a decline in water use.

Documents show that the district lost $30 million out of a $1-billion budget. Ironically, some of that hit came during the drought when customers were asked to conserve water, which they did.

Becci Haskew, who was out walking around the Lafayette Reservoir early Tuesday, definitely took issue with the proposed rate hike, saying that she did everything she could during the drought, including planting drought-resistant plants, and that she and others like her shouldn't be penalized for not being a water hog.
"I've done everything I can," she said. "Now, I get punished for it."

Board member John Coleman was the lone "no" vote on the hike, which he called a "slam." He said the district should put a bond on the ballot instead to get a vote of the people.

KTVU's Paul Chambers contributed to this report.