Water Watch

PALMDALE — Palmdale Water District ratepayers will have several opportunities to learn more about the agency and its proposed rate changes in the coming weeks through workshops and an open house.

The events are predecessors to the public hearing on the rate plan at 6 p.m. on Oct. 28 at the District’s administrative office, 2029 East Ave. Q.

The Board of Directors has proposed a rate structure that will increase its revenues from rates by 8.1% each year through 2024. This will cover $30 million in capital improvement projects and will leave the District with just over the desired $16.2 million reserve fund by the end of the five years.

The first community workshops on the rate change are from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Palmdale Learning Plaza, 38043 Division St. and from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Sept. 24 at Buena Vista Elementary School, 37005 Hillcrest Drive.

In addition, an open house is set for 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 7 at the Leslie O. Carter Water Treatment Plant, 700 East Ave. S. Visitors will learn how the District ensures clean water for its customers and tour the laboratory, chemical rooms, sedimentation basins, treatment process and control room.

Those interested in visiting the treatment plant should sign up with Public Affairs Specialist Laura Gallegos at lgallegos@palmdalewater.org or by calling 661-441-5944.

Upkeep of the treatment plant is but one of the District’s expenses considered in developing the proposed rate plan.

The District conducts a rate study every five years to determine how to maintain financial stability while continuing to provide the needed services. The new rate plan was created through a rate study by consultants RDN, which looked at projected demand over the next five years, revenues from rates and projected costs to arrive at options for making the revenues and expenses line up while considering the impact on customers’ bills.

The water billing from PWD has two parts: a flat-rate service charge that covers the fixed costs of operating and maintaining the system and a second charge for the water itself, which is arranged in tiers which charge higher rates for greater amounts of water used beyond a base allocation for indoor and outdoor use.

For a typical single-family residence, the monthly flat-rate service charge will increase from the current $37.77 to $38.22 in 2020, about a 1.2% increase.

Over the course of the rate plan, the flat-rate service charge will increase to $54.32 in 2024, an increase of nearly 44% over the five years.

For the water charge portion of the billing, the Tier 1, which is considered the essential use allocation for indoor use, will remain at the same 88 cents per hundred cubic feet of water (748 gallons) next year. It will gradually increase to $1.08 per hundred cubic feet by 2024, an increase of nearly 23% over the five years.

The rate plan also includes a state-mandated reduction in the minimum allocation per person per day for indoor use from 66 gallons to 55 gallons.

Tier 2, considered outdoor allocation for landscaping, will increase from $1.01 today to $1.52 in 2020, and to $1.98 per hundred cubic feet by 2024.

However, the District is changing the way it calculates the outdoor area used in determining a single-family residence’s allocation for Tier 2. Using aerial mapping, the landscaped area will be more precisely measured, rather than using a standard estimation of 50% of the parcel size.

Taken together, a typical single-family residential customer using 17 hundred cubic feet per month — the average water use for PWD customers — can expect to see its bill increase from $53.56 per month to $58.63 per month next year.

All in all, 73.5% of customers will see less than a 10% increase in their water bills next year, according to the rate study.

Under the state’s Prop. 218 process, ratepayers may address the the proposed rate plan in person at the Oct. 28 public hearing or may protest in writing delivered to the administrative office at 2029 East Ave. Q, Palmdale, 93550.

Written protests must be received by the end of the hearing and must include the location of the owner’s parcel by County Assessor’s Parcel Number or street address, list the owner’s name and have an original signature.

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