East Bay Water District Angers Customers with Planned Rate Hikes
Last month, East Bay water approved a plan to raise rates by 19 percent over the next two years. The rate hike is partly to make up for all the lost revenue from customers who were responsible during the drought. The district says it has been getting less revenue because customers have been using less water, but that its infrastructure costs, particularly the ongoing need to replace aging pipes, remain constant no matter how much water is used. The water district serves 1.4 million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties and has a 331-square-mile system. EBMUD spokeswoman Jenesse Miller stated,
We are not a profit-making organization. Our rates cover our budget costs. We understand people are frustrated. It’s an irony of the drought. We had amazing cooperation from our customers.
Water rates have nearly doubled over the past 10 years, even though those increases took effect as water usage went down 30 percent during that same time period after customers got the message to conserve. Since the rate increase was approved by the water district board last month, bills went up 9.25 percent and in July 2018, rates will increase another 9 percent. The average user’s bill will go up a total of $9 a month over current rates after the second price hike next summer. Miller said that typical EBMUD users cut their daily usage from 250 gallons a day to 200 gallons a day because of the drought. It really is ironic that the water district’s customers are being repaid for conserving water by being charged more for services.