Water District Explains Need for Rate Increase

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  • Above, this chart illustrates the costs for water throughout all the Frazier Mountain Communities, with three others in the Tehachapi Mountains section of eastern and northern Kern County.As you see, the $12.10 paid by LCWD customers is strikingly low in comparison to the prevailing cost in the area, which hover between $30-$45. The $118 per month figure paid by Kernville residents is charged by the for-profit California Water Services Company. Karin Willson of LCWD compiled these figures to show direct comparisons in rates (NOTE: An error was made in Willson's original chart printed in April 29 issue of The Mountain Enterprise. The correction is been made here ).

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    Above, this chart illustrates the costs for water throughout all the Frazier Mountain Communities, with three others in the Tehachapi Mountains section of eastern and northern Kern County.As you see, the $12.10 paid by LCWD customers is strikingly low in comparison to the prevailing cost in the area, which hover between $30-$45. The $118 per month figure paid by Kernville residents is charged by the for-profit California Water Services Company. Karin Willson of LCWD compiled these figures to show direct comparisons in rates (NOTE: An error was made in Willson's original chart printed in April 29 issue of The Mountain Enterprise. The correction is been made here ).

  • Imagine a doughboy swimming pool that is 12 feet wide by 12.5 feet long and 5 feet deep, says Steve Cozzetto of the Lebec County Water District. Those dimensions are taped out on the water company’s office floor, and up the wall (shown above), to illustrate the volume that 750 cubic feet, or 5,610 gallons of water would fill.

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    Imagine a doughboy swimming pool that is 12 feet wide by 12.5 feet long and 5 feet deep, says Steve Cozzetto of the Lebec County Water District. Those dimensions are taped out on the water company’s office floor, and up the wall (shown above), to illustrate the volume that 750 cubic feet, or 5,610 gallons of water would fill.

By Patric Hedlund

A report by the engineering firm Provost & Pritchard, updated on April 7, 2011, lays out the path the Lebec County Water Company needs to take to update their half-century-old water distribution system. The report says that the district covers about 1,500 acres of land and supplies “potable water to approximately 240 residential homes, two mobile home parks, over 50 commercial businesses and the northbound and southbound I-5 rest stops. All services are metered.”

Because its water distribution system was built incrementally from before LCWD’s official formation in 1967 to the present, today it needs the same kind of updates that other water districts in the Mountain Communities have been engaged in over the past seven years.

Other volunteer water boards such as Frazier Park Public Utility District and the Mil Potrero Mutual Water District (which serves the Pine Mountain community) were informed about five years ago that they would have to raise their rates in order to qualify for federal and state loans and grants with which to update their systems.

All report the same reasoning by government sources: rates need to be modestly increased to promote conservation and to keep the districts financially solvent enough to pay for the upgrades. The loans are typically very low or no interest loan/grants.

The catch, however, is that the volunteer boards must educate their customers about why the rate change is needed. At $12.10 a month for 1000 cubic feet (cf) LCWD has had a base rate less than half that of others in the area, and many customers at meetings over the past year say they realize change is needed. That doesn’t stop them from wishing things could stay the same, however.

The proposed new residential rate would be 750 cubic feet (5,610 gallons) for $36.30, a $24.20 increase per month. After that, the rate is two cents per cubic foot if the base allocation is exceeded, meaning a homeowner could double their water use to 1,500cf for just $15 more per month. The table above (see second image) illustrates the current rates paid throughout the region and in neighboring communities.

[Note: The original Excel chart provided by LCWD with water rate information had an error. It did not show that the amount paid by LCWD customers for 1000 cf of water is just $12.10 per month. The chart above has been corrected, showing the current rate correctly along with what the rate would be after the proposed increase.]

 

This is part of the April 29, 2011 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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