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City elects not to raise drought charge

The City Council voted not to raise a drought charge it levied on residents earlier this year because the new fee helped cover declining revenues, according to the city’s top utility official.

An extra 75 cents per hundred cubic feet of water — or 748 gallons — was added to water bills this spring. The charge, however, was tacked on because people were consuming less water, not more.

Less usage meant less money coming in, while the cost of maintaining the city’s water delivery system would stay the same, said Glendale Water & Power General Manager Steve Zurn.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, seven months after the rate went into effect, Zurn said the fee helped make up the 20% drop in revenue, so there was no need for an additional hike.

A combination of continued conservation by residents and managerial decisions to buy less water from the Metropolitan Water District also helped, Zurn said.

“We’ve made some managerial decisions to not purchase as much water and not keep the reservoir as full as they were and try to keep further costs down so we won’t have to raise the drought rate,” he said.

The community is responding so well to what we’ve asked them to do because of the drought situation ... I think we underestimated our residents. I think they know the value of water, they know how important it is.

Paula Devine, Glendale City Councilwoman


Mandatory restrictions on watering lawns less frequently have been in place for some time and currently, phase three is in effect, which permits watering only twice a week.

The typical single-family customer uses about 1,900 cubic feet of water per month, which equates to an extra $14.25.

The rejected increase would have made it $1.30 per hundred cubic feet, or $24.70 in extra charges based on the above example.

Zurn said he would be back before the council in another six months to recommend whether to increase the drought rate. But what lies ahead are the winter months, the time of the year when the least amount of water is used, he said.

On top of local watering restrictions, the state government has set mandatory conservation goals for every California city.

Glendale was ordered to cut consumption by 20% and so far, the city has been exceeding the goal, hovering around 25%.

Councilwoman Paula Devine said she’s thankful for the level of commitment from residents and sees many examples driving through the community of people doing their part such as installing drought-tolerant landscapes.

“The community is responding so well to what we’ve asked them to do because of the drought situation,” she said. “I think we underestimated our residents. I think they know the value of water, they know how important it is.”

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Arin Mikailian, arin.mikailian@latimes.com

Twitter: @ArinMikailian

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