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Many Foothills residents will have higher water bills in September

Crescenta Valley Water District
Crescenta Valley Water District board members voted to increase water and sewer rates for its roughly 33,000 customers in La Crescenta and Montrose and parts of Glendale and La Cañada. The vote had been delayed about two months over customer noticing concerns.
(File photo)

Roughly 33,000 residents of foothill communities will see an increase in their water bills beginning Sept. 1, when a pair of recently approved rate hikes are set to go into effect.

On Tuesday, Crescenta Valley Water District board members voted 4-1 to go forward with a 7% increase in water rates and a 4% hike in sewer rates.

Board member Judy Tejeda cast the lone dissenting vote, according to Christy Scott, spokeswoman for the water authority.

Customers in La Crescenta, Montrose, and portions of Glendale and La Cañada Flintridge, will pay an average of $7 more per month on their combined monthly bills once the new rates go into effect.

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This marks the 11th consecutive annual water rate increase, with last year seeing a 5.5% jump, according to Scott. Sewer rates were last raised four years ago.

The recent vote, originally scheduled for late June, was delayed after a La Crescenta resident argued that the notice alerting customers of proposed rate hikes was misleading.

According to Marilyn Tyler, the notice implied that only property owners — and not renters — could formally protest the proposed rate hikes.

Erring on the side of caution, water district officials sent out new notices to customers with clarifying language, Scott said.

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This time around, the water authority received 409 protest “ballots,” she said.

An additional public hearing was also held on Tuesday, right before the vote.

As a result of the delay, Scott said the district lost about $400,000 in revenue it would have received through the rate increases.

The summer months tend to be the most lucrative for the district, she added.

Capital improvements, such as reservoir and well maintenance, are “the biggest driver of the budget,” said Scott, explaining the impetus for the hikes.

Another factor is the decreasing availability of local groundwater, she said.

To compensate, the district has been purchasing more water from Northern California and the Colorado River, which travels hundreds of miles through aqueducts and costs more than tapping into closer wells.

Because of the delay and lost revenue, the board will need to reconsider its list of possible capital improvement projects, Scott said.

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A decision on which projects to pursue will likely be made during the board’s next meeting on Sept. 10, she added.

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