Saving Water, But Paying More
Clean, reliable water is a basic human need and fundamental to our way of life. Most people do a good job conserving this precious resource, but still see their water bills going up – why? The short answer is that rate increases are driven by the need to replace old pumps, pipes and tanks with new equipment.
In the Crescenta Valley Water District (CVWD), some portions of its water distribution system are over 50 years old and are approaching, or have already reached, the end of their useful lives. The system that supplies safe, clean water to our community operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the failure of any element is not an option. This is especially true in a hillside community like La Crescenta where, in addition to the loss of water, the consequential damages to surrounding property owners resulting from a large water line failure could amount to millions of dollars.
CVWD has evaluated and identified certain facilities requiring rehabilitation or replacement. There are three ways for CVWD to pay for this work: borrow the money from the public by issuing bonds, obtain a grant from the state or federal government, or pay cash from current revenues. As a matter of policy, CVWD’s board of directors decided not to ask its customers to approve bonds to fund system repair and replacement costs. CVWD does receive some limited grant funding. In the last three years, the District received $1.3 million that was used to study stormwater capture, establish an additional emergency water connection and construct a new water supply well. Even after crediting any grant funds to improve the District’s supply reliability, the necessary critical repairs and infrastructure replacement will cost approximately $2 million per year which must be paid by CVWD using water revenues with the cost of this work added to each customer’s water bill.
However, a pipe or other equipment installed in the 1960s (and at 1960s prices) must now be replaced at today’s costs. This is why water conservation will not reduce the cost of infrastructure repair and replacement because these costs are not affected by the variations in the amount of water delivered year to year.
While saving water will not reduce the cost of system repairs and replacement, conservation is vitally important because, under the current extreme drought conditions, water use has and is expected to continue to decline resulting in a revenue shortfall to the CVWD. Since water utility revenue is based on the amount of water consumed, the amount of water allotted in tiers two, three, and four has been adjusted accordingly. These changes to the amount of billing units in the tiers will result in increased costs for customers who were on the higher end of tier two or in tiers three and four. So, saving water will keep you in a lower billing tier which will save you money.
Should you have any questions, please contact CVWD at (818) 248-3925 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The District is currently in “Orange Alert.” Outdoor watering is permitted only on Tuesday and Saturday, before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. For a full list of restrictions, please visit the District’s website at www.cvwd.com.