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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Water Rates

Mayor Larry Kramer responds to an article in the citizen-sponsored "Capistrano Common Sense" newsletter.

I was shocked to read in the “Capistrano Common Sense” that the “City OKs 25.6 Percent Water and Sewer Rate Increase.” So being a homeowner in San Juan Capistrano, I broke out my last water bill (billing date 6/7/2012) and did some calculations.

I live in a fairly typical house. The total bill was for $105.42. The sewer usage charges will go from $23.61 to $27.64 (17.1 percent). The water service charges will go up from $27.81 to $28.64 (3 percent )(1” connection). The 6 units of base tier usage will go up from $3 to $3.09 per unit (3 percent) an increase cost of $0.54.

We used 9 units of Tier 1 water. The cost per unit increased from $4 to $4.12 (3 percent). The additional charge would be $1.08. Totaling it all up would resultin an increased charge of $6.48 per month, which is an overal lincrease of 6.2 percent.

We are quite frugal with our water usage. We are both retired on a fixed income. We have low-flow toilets (the city has a rebate for these). We removed the grass lawn from our backyard this spring and replaced it with decomposed granite, some rocks, stones, a fire pit and native plants. We hand water the plants occasionally.

Metropolitan Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) paid $1 per square foot for removal of grass. We had our irrigation controller replaced at no cost with a “smart” controller, further reducing our water usage. MWDOC paid for this equipment and installation. These are some actions that can be taken to reduce water consumption.

To put the rate increase in perspective, our imported water from Metropolitan Water District (MWD) will be increasing 5 percent on Jan. 1, 2013 and 5 percent on Jan. 1, 2014. Imported water charges have increased 63 percent from January 2007 to January 2012. We have no control over those increases.

These latest rate increases were approved a couple of years ago after a rate study done for the city by Black and Veatch, followed by a public hearing. What was presented to the City Council recently was information about what changes, already approved years ago, would be occurring on July 1. Rate increases have to be based upon a study. We cannot increase the rates without such a study and a public hearing.

So while the cost of water is increasing, it is not increasingby 25.6 percent. For most residents it is increasing by about thesame amount as the increase being passed onto the city by the Metropolitan Water District.

Larry Kramer

Mayor and Resident of San Juan Capistrano

John Perry June 22, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Larry The water bill increased by a composite 25.6% for water use, service charge, and sewer. The Consumer price index was barely 2%. Way is it always necessary to stick it to the rate payers? How about some cost reductions in employee compensation and operating expense before raising rates? The household water ans sewer bill now exceeds my electric bill and my natural gas bill for a tiny little condo with two senior citizens. However the Association bill runs over $900 per month during the summer, not chump change. Something has to change, the City cannot continue to gouge the taxpayers. John Perry
Clint Worthington June 22, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Gosh Mr. Mayor, it was not the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) that reimbursed you for removing your lawn, it was the water users of the MWD, the residents of our City and your neighbors who paid to have your lawn removed. As Mayor of our City, I am surprised that you did not know that we purchase water from the MWD and sell it to the residents of our City. Yes, Mr. Mayor it was the water users who reimbursed you, not the MWD. I am sorry that you do not remember that you voted to increase the water and sewer rates just sixteen days ago on June 5th at the City Council meeting that you presided at.. It was item D11 on the City Council agenda. You had a chance to not implement the water and sewer rate increase, but your vote was cast to implement the rates effective July 1st. Mr. Mayor, I am sorry that the new math is confusing to you. Just using the example you used above on your home, (I did not check your math for accuracy), the rate increased over 23% !! That is using adding the 17.1% and the 3% twice. It is obvious that you did not have any clue at all judging by this article on what you actually voted on. In addition, you do not have any clue to math. I am so sorry.
socalfam June 22, 2012 at 03:31 AM
How nice for the mayor that HIS bill didn't increase much. Mine has DOUBLED over the past two years, and we use less water than we did two years ago! The dang water in this town is too expensive - we can barely afford the water now even without the continuing increases!! This city needs to admit its mistake, dump that stupid water plant and buy all its water from the metro water district instead - its' about half the price, even with the metro water district's recent increases. To continue to gouge ratepayers to pay for the city's mistake is a slap in the face to all us residents who pay WAY too much for a necessity like water.
SJCfamily June 22, 2012 at 06:31 AM
If the mayor is "frugal" with hhis water usage, re-landscaped his backyard with gravel and still saw an increase of 6.2% in his water bill, doesn't that make the point that the water is way too expensive?
Rhen Kohan June 22, 2012 at 06:19 PM
I'm unemployed, now going onto Soc Security, AND am behind on both my payments for water and trash pickup...THEN this month, I see both bills increased. Talk about the picture of the pelican with the frog in its beak YET the frog is NOT GOING DOWN, it has its hands tightly around the pelican's neck....picture it...who is who? Are we trying to all eat each other alive? Could we all take a minute to breathe, and for those dominating entities (City Council refusing to try other methods like Clint says, CR&R sanctimoniously charging more because they can), those entities with such control and concern over going broke and some with personal agendas recognize that to squeeze those trying to get stablizied is going to eventually fail...that people need a freaking break??!!! Good grief. Have a nice day.
Jim Reardon June 27, 2012 at 06:20 AM
The Mayor is aware that the Black & Veach rate study that was used to justify the current water rate increase has been discredited. In an election year, the City has decided to increase sewer fees instead of water fees, because they have discovered that customers have been avoiding their high-priced water. In fact, as prices rise, demand is falling and this puts their whole wet dream of "water independence" in jeopardy. The Mayor's "shock" facing complaints about high utility rates says it all. He's lost touch with the town as a whole. The Utility Department overspending is bleeding the life out of the City's budget. Mr. Kramer is content to waste away the City's reserve chasing dubious environmental and social goals.

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