Letter: Tiered Water Rates Based on Greed

By Jack Chestek, San Juan Capistrano

This is my protest to a cost increase in my water rate and service.

First, this notice could be hard proof for a lawsuit.

I’ll explain. City Hall records show Groundwater Recovery Plant costs have been reported at: $3,000 per acre foot in 2011; $1,342.51 in May 2012; $1,093 in October 2012; $1,250 in January 2014; and $588.18 in March 2014.

Based on the above numbers, the capital cost of $2,941,002 per year to run the GWRP has somehow gone bye-bye. Over the past four years, residents have paid $11.6 million for a water cost factor that City Hall doesn’t need any longer or is hiding. This doesn’t make sense.

Second, the new water rates don’t make sense.

It doesn’t make sense to charge more for poop water—a.k.a. non-potable or recycled water—than drinking water. Rather than charge HOA’s $3.41 per unit to water their grass with drinking water from Lake Mead, City Hall plans on charging HOA’s more like $3.53 per unit for local poop water. Guess who makes out money wise?

I believed 10 hundred cubic feet (ccf) of water cost me $36.04 today. After July 1, the same amount of water at the new proposed prate should cost $35.44. Wow, this is a 60-cent savings (Note: My guess is this amount of cost reduction is now what Judge Gregory Munoz had in mind when he ruled our City Hall has to cut its water rates.)

The same 10 ccf of water I have to pay today only costs $13.80 in Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Hills, parts of Dana Point and Mission Viejo.

Our City Hall has been charging residents the most severe drought rates the state asks for over the past four years. Now, City Hall is proposing to relax its restraints from 6 ccf to 9 ccf per month. This doesn’t make sense. The state is experiencing its worst drought ever this year. This is just one of many overcharges City Hall needs to repay over the past four years.

Oh yeah, I believe the proposed monthly service charge of $30.74 for a 1-inch meter far exceeds any other agency in Orange County. Mission Viejo residents pay $7.77 for the same service.

Third, the new tiered rates don’t make sense.

All of this town’s water comes from reservoirs. Seventy percent of our water storage comes from two reservoirs. City Hall has no way to supply these two reservoirs with GWRP water. So it’s dumb to say everyone’s tier-one rate is based on cheap GWRP water when it can only be distributed to 30 percent of the town.

In summary, during the past four years, City Hall has overcharged residents a fixed $11.6 million plus millions in varying excessive water rates.

The term volumetric is meaningless as used in this notice. City Hall has absolutely no way or means of measuring water used on residential landscape, which gets its GWRP water, which gets water from the Metropolitan Water District of Orange County and how much of the two water sources they get or use.

As a past city water commissioner for six years, I’ve concluded City Hall’s only justification for tiered rates is greed. One day, tier four water costs $11.67 and the next day it costs $5.15. This greed breeds corruption. Is City Hall hiding $2.9 million in GWRP capital costs per year and why?

In my view, City Hall has to stop screwing residents with tiered rates. Stop promoting the GWRP as a fix for earthquakes and droughts because its days are numbered until our aquifer is depleted of free water. Turn our water service over to Moulton Niguel, which knows how to manage water, and get out of the political greed business.

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One Response to “Letter: Tiered Water Rates Based on Greed”

  1. Joanna Clark
    June 26, 2014 at 8:11 am #

    I’m sorry Mr. Chestek, but I have to disagree with you. We are in an extended extreme to exceptional drought period, and we are running out of water. Over population and anthropogenic-driven global warming producing major climate change throughout the world has forced us to conserve water. Unfortunately, there are people who haven’t gotten the message and combined they waste tens of thousands of gallons of water each day.

    Tiered water rates are just one way of sending these individuals a clear message . . . “If you’re going to waste our most precious resource, you are going to pay for it.” I suspect that if the drought continues and we don’t control population growth, the next decade will more than likely see water police patrolling our streets, fining and even shutting off water to those who continue to waste our water.

    We should all be looking for ways to conserve water. We could replace our lawns with drought tolerant plants, install dual flush toilets and in new construction, water recycling systems that take sink, shower, and laundry water and use it for flushing our toilets. A family of four can save up to 35% of the water they use annually with this type of system.

    I installed automatic faucets in my bathroom sinks along with dual flush toilets two years ago, and they reduced my monthly water bill by nearly 50%. Two water barrels, drip irrigation and drought tolerant plants have also helped to keep my water bill a bit lower, as well.

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