City Council Moves Forward on
Water Rate Advisory Committee
The citizen Rate Advisory Committee presented its financial recommendations intended to protect the future health of the water and wastewater utilities to the Ventura City Council on February 27. The Council agreed with most of the recommendations as a first step in considering two-year rate increases in the near future.
Committee Chairman John Mundy addressed the importance of providing stewardship of the community’s water resources, including environmental protection and civic engagement. Ventura Water General Manager Shana Epstein presented an overview of a cost of service study conducted with input from the Committee and developed by Raftetlis Financial Consultants.
Rate adjustments proposed include a higher water service charge to support revenue stability and tighter residential tiers to encourage water efficiency. Change to the rate differential charged to outside City customers is recommended, likely resulting in lower costs for these customers. For residential wastewater rates, it’s recommended that tiers be discontinued and that winter averaging be used to set the charge starting each July.
If implemented, bills may also reflect a separate “Estuary Protection Charge” to fund planning for a water reuse program for the water released in the Santa Clara River estuary from the City’s Water Reclamation Facility. This is in response to the agreement reached in August by the City, Heal the Bay and Wishtoyo Foundation’s Ventura Coastkeeper Program.
Under the proposed rates, the bi-monthly bill for the average single-family residential customer using about 15,700 gallons of water (21 HCF) may increase $9.04 the first year and another $5.96 the second year. The wastewater bi-monthly bill for a single family residential customer set at a winter average of 11,220 gallons (15 HCF) may decrease $6.66 the first year and increase $3.60 the second year, with a net decrease of $3.06 over the two years.
Residents are encouraged to visit http://www.cityofventura.net/water/resources to review the proposed rates and complete information about the Committee’s recommendations.
How Do Rates Get Set?
The City of Ventura and its residents own Ventura Water. It is self-supporting from rates paid by customers and receives no funding from the City’s General Fund.
As a municipal enterprise that does not make a profit, rates are set to generate revenues that equal projected expenses.
A cost of service study is a utility industry methodology that calculates the individual rates based on projected expenses and the revenue needed to fund the costs.
The study aligns water usage by different customer classes (for example, residential customers) and the proportionate cost of providing that service.
Ventura’s last formal cost of service study was performed in the early 1990s and usage patterns have shifted between customer classes.
As a result of the study, some customers will notice both increases and decreases in the water and wastewater rates for the first year.
GET YOUR RAIN BARRELS WHILE THEY LAST
The ancient tradition of collecting rainwater still makes good sense today for many reasons. To make it easy to take the plunge, Ventura Water is offering our customers a 50 percent discount on 60-gallon rain barrels (retailing for $85) for a limited time. In partnership with Smith and Pipe Supply, customers only need to present proof of Ventura residency* and a Rain Barrel discount voucher available by calling 652-4584 or printed directly
to receive up to two barrels for $42 plus tax each, while supplies last.
Outdoor water use in Ventura accounts for 40-60 percent of the total water demand. Did you know that up to 600 gallons of rainwater can drain from a 1,000 square-foot roof in a one-inch rainstorm? Rainwater harvesting is not only a great way to save our natural resources, but it can reduce your water bill and save you money. In addition, capturing the water rather than letting it flow into the storm drain system also prevents water pollution and soil erosion that travels to our beaches and waterways during rainstorms.
In cooperation with Smith Pipe and Supply, located at 3060 Sherwin Ave. in Ventura, this offer is also sponsored by the City of Ventura Environmental Sustainability program. Two rain barrel discounts are available per residential address with the voucher. Additional rain barrels (for non-potable water use only) may be purchased at the full retail price. (*Proof of Ventura residency can be in the form of a water or other utility bill that includes your name and address, or a document that shows a city of Ventura address. A driver’s license will not be accepted.)