Carpinteria residents can expect to see their water bills fluctuate in accordance with drought-related expenses that are projected for the 2016-2017 budget. Low water users will have their rates increase by roughly $8.13 per month, whereas high water users will have their rates drop by nearly $7.77 per month.
The two-tiered rate system is expected to go into effect as a replacement for the previous three-tiered system. According to Carpinteria Valley Water District (CVWD) General Manager Charles Hamilton, the three-tiers weren’t in sync with the cost of service required.
“It has to do with the way we’re structuring the tiers,” said Hamilton. “We have a huge amount of drought expense, and the low water users’ rates would actually decrease if not for these expenses.” Hamilton went on to explain that the drought expenses are part of the fixed side of the budget expenditures, meaning that the customers bear the costs. “The variable side of the budget is not fluctuating much,” say Hamilton.
If not for the drought, low water users would see their rates drop by an average of $1.92 per month, a 2.5 percent decrease. High water users would see their rates drop by an average of nearly $22.02 per month, an 11.4 percent reduction.
The CVWD has been able to shift dependency on lake resources to groundwater supplies. In the past five years, the district’s water has shifted from 68 percent via Lake Cachuma and 19 percent from groundwater to 11 percent from Lake Cachuma and 71 percent from groundwater resources. The budget will require $400,000 alone just to reshore the groundwater supplies.
The new rate system was proposed on March 23 at the CVWD Board of Directors meeting, and the proposed budget will be voted on June 8, meaning that customers will have some time to prepare for the eventual rate adjustments.