Wanna Talk Water? There's a Workshop for That

Actually two. One this week before the Utilities Commission and one next week before the City Council. Public input is invited.

The San Juan Capistrano Utilities Commission is holding a water workshop Thursday. Patch file photo.
The San Juan Capistrano Utilities Commission is holding a water workshop Thursday. Patch file photo.

Originally posted at 8:27 a.m. Jan. 6, 2014. Edited to correct who set the goals for the rate study.

San Juan Capistrano residents who want to talk about their water rates have several opportunities to get down to the nitty gritty.

In December, the city hosted a water forum, setting up displays describing several aspects of the bills and water itself, including how our rates compare to other cities and where the water comes from. Officials also solicited input about possible changes to the rate system via a questionnaire.

But now you can speak directly to policy makers.

The city’s Utility Commission will host a workshop at 6 p.m. Thursday at City Hall. A contractor the city hired to look at the rate structure will first give a presentation, focusing on “policies related to water, recycled water, and sewer financial plans, revenue requirements and reserves and will include a discussion about rate structures and pricing objectives,” according to a staff report.

Not only will the Utilities Commission will give its input, the public is invited to offer its opinion as well, the staff report says.

A similar meeting before the San Juan Capistrano City Council is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Jan. 16. Then on Feb. 27, the two bodies will hold a joint meeting and take action on a new rate structure.

In August, an Orange County Superior Court ruled San Juan Capistrano’s water rate structure violates the State Constitution because its four-tiered rates which climb with increased water use don’t correspond to the actual cost to deliver the water and because residents who don’t have access to recycled water are billed for it.

The city, however, was due to look at its water rates as the last study, approved February 2010, called for regular rate hikes through July 2013 and was intended to be good through June 2014. 

Among the goals identified by the City Council:

  • Send a stronger conservation message and reward prudent use
  • Consider water budgets (allocations) for commercial customers
  • Encourage more efficient landscape practices
  • Continue to operate the system
  • Plan for repair and replacement
  • Reestablish emergency reserves
  • Update cost-of-service information
  • Adjust for increased costs from Metropolitan Water District and San Diego Gas & Electric
  • Develop a water supply strategy and related projects, including recycled water and groundwater



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