By Jason KUROSU
Longtime La Crescenta resident Mike Chonos regularly attends Crescenta Valley Water District board meetings. Each meeting allots time for public comments, which Chonos takes full advantage of, often voicing his displeasure over increasing rates and customer costs.
However, Chonos does not believe the water district takes those public comments into account when making decisions that affect the public.
“How can we have some sort of say so on these matters?” Chonos asked, speaking to Crescenta Valley Weekly recently.
“No matter what we say, they keep raising rates. They use every excuse they can think of, high gas prices, needing the money to fix the pipes. They’re out of control.”
According to CVWD Program Specialist Christy Scott, a rate increase will go into effect starting in July. The water district is also engaged in large scale projects to replace much of the aging infrastructure, such as the pipelines throughout La Crescenta which date back more than 50 years, and the water meters, some of which are over 30 years old.
Chonos cites these projects as reasons he believes rates should not be increased, as well as money CVWD received from lawsuits. Conoco Phillips settled a lawsuit with CVWD after the water district claimed the oil company had leaked Methyl Tertiary-butyl Ether, or MTBE, into the groundwater. Exxon Mobil also settled with CVWD against similar claims, though the companies have said that the settlements were less from admitting wrongdoing and more from avoiding lengthy and costly trials.
The settlements totaled in the millions and Chonos believes the money should have prevented further rate increases.
“You would think that they would not have to raise our rates,” said Chonos.
Greg Wilkins, a resident of La Crescenta for over 30 years, expressed similar disapproval with the water district.
“They’re not doing enough to hold down prices and costs for the customers,” said Wilkins. “They don’t seem to be able to control spending.”
Whereas Chonos believes the public commentary is largely ignored by the water district, Wilkins believes there are simply not enough people talking.
“Nobody goes to these meetings,” said Wilkins. “They could raise rates 100% and no one would ever know.”