The Silicon Valley Voice

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Water Rates to Float Higher for Santa Clara Residents

Effective July 1, Santa Clara residents and business will notice that their water, recycled water and sewer rates will be a tad higher. 

Based on a study ordered by the City and conducted by Black & Veatch Management Consulting LLC, at current rates the City’s utilities will be running on just fumes within three years if rates do not increase. The study proposes a 10-year financial plan that will keep the utilities afloat and also save money for rainy days. 

For starters, your monthly quantity charge for all potable water use will now be $5.98 per hundred cubic feet for general customers — versus the previous monthly charge of $5.69. 

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Black & Veatch’s study calls this “consumption charges.” They say the consumption charge is designed to recover costs associated with base capacity demands and also extra capacity demands. So the increased charge will help recover the cost of providing for both normal water needs and also more-than-normal water needs. 

Resolution 18-8542 approved by City Council on June 12 says the quantity charge recovers costs “to operate the Water Utility, including groundwater charges, treated water purchased from others for resale, and energy for pumping.”

How much each Santa Claran’s monthly minimum water meter rates will increase depends on the water meter’s size — but, for example, for the smallest residential meter, which is 5/8 x 3/4 inch, the minimum rate was $16.45 and will now be $17.87.

Additionally, recycled water customer’s rates are also going up — these customers are mainly non-residential. Black & Veatch recommended that the Recycled Water Utility needed to increase their revenue by almost 10 percent.

Meter rates for recycled water will be the same as water meter rates but the monthly quality charge for general customers will be $3.58 per hundred cubic feet — previously $3.35. 

The increase in sewer rates is a little clearer. For each single family dwelling unit and each dwelling unit within a multiple dwelling unit structure, the new monthly rate is $42.91 — compared to the previous monthly rate of $41.65 —  according to Resolution No. 18-8543, which was also approved by Council on June 12.

The City’s Sewer Utility has the extra complexity that it owes money, so the rate increase will help pay down that debt due to the Trimble Road sewer trunk line replacement in Santa Clara. 

Rates for private fire accounts and for customers that have a backflow device are also changing. 

The study points to the change in Santa Clarans’ water consumption habits as part of the reason for the increased rates. Because residents did a remarkable job at reducing water usage during the drought, and continue to do so even after mandatory reductions were lifted, Black & Veatch said the City’s utilities need “to minimize impacts, retain simplicity, and ensure the reasonable stability of revenue” and, therefore, increase rates. 

Black & Veatch’s study took many factors into consideration while creating the rate schedule, including capital improvement program expenses, operating and maintenance expenses, and the costs to actually provide the utilities’ services. 

Additionally, Black & Veatch proposed in their study to raise water, recycled water and sewer rates at similar increases every year over 10 years; however, the approved resolutions only raised rates for 2018.  

The changes will commence with the billing cycle for services provided on or after July 1, and each subsequent billing cycle thereafter.

For more information about the new rates — including information on non-residential rates or other applicable rates — check the June 12 City Council packet: santaclaraca.gov/government/council-meetings.

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