Rates to rise

By Brandon HENSLEY

Crescenta Valley Water District customers can expect their rates to increase over the coming years, explained former CVWD board member Richard Atwater in Tuesday’s meeting.

Atwater, who resigned from his position last month, was an audience member this time, and presented a slide show on the Metropolitan Water District’s 2010-11 budget and rates. Rates are projected to rise 5% to 10% in the years ahead, with some years exceeding over 10%.

“We’re in for a series of years in which the water rates are going to increase,” explained CVWD general manager Dennis Erdman. “Water is going to get more expensive.”

Metropolitan serves 19.5 million people from Ventura to San Diego. They sell water to Foothill Municipal, which is a wholesale agency to Crescenta Valley.

As is commonly known, water is already scarce in Southern California, and the region is not getting the transports of water from Northern California to Southern California. The Colorado river shed is seeing low to normal conditions as well, said Erdman.

“External supplies are dwindling,” Erdman said, noting that the rise of electricity costs is also affecting water rates.

The board also spent a lengthy time discussing the process of replacing Atwater. Eight applicants have submitted their intent on taking the job, and the board of directors will hold preliminary interviews with each of them on Tuesday. They will then hope to cut the number in half and interview those applicants again March 11.

If everything goes according to plan, the board will have selected a new member, and that person will be on the job at the March 16 board meeting.

The biggest action item of the night was in discussing MTBE, a contaminant from gasoline that was found in one of  CV’s wells, said Erdman. MTBE is an additive to gasoline to make gas less smog producing. But some service stations have had the substance leak from tanks, which then made it into the ground. It is soluble in water.

“It’s contaminant that when it gets into one of your wells, it has a very turpentine smell to our customers,” said Erdman.

The well in question reached a dangerous level of contamination two years ago, and now Erdman said the district is “seeking to recover funds from the oil companies related to the contamination.”