LA CRESCENTA — A split Crescenta Valley Water District Board of Directors on Wednesday approved a rate hike for customers who already pay among the highest rates in the region.
District officials have said they needed the rate hike, which will result in an 8% increase on water bills for average customers, to meet the higher cost of imported water amid lost revenues stemming from increased conservation, as well as rising costs for maintaining the district’s aging pipelines.
Board members James Bodnar, Ken Putnam and Kathy Ross voted in favor of the proposed increase, which they said is needed to keep the utility from continuing to dip into its reserves to cover operations.
“Raising rates is very difficult during this period,” Bodnar said. “But I think our job is to ensure that our customers have water when they need it.”
Board members Kerry Erickson and Judy Tejada voted against the increase, which they said they would not approve at a time when residents are struggling to pay their bills. Several dozen residents have spoken out at board meetings or written to the utility opposing the increase.
“I just think we are hurting people,” Tejada said.
But those on the other side of the vote countered that the utility has already trimmed its budget wherever possible and called out the fixed service charge, which had been pared down from the original proposal.
Utilities in Burbank and Glendale, which also rely on imported water, have also approved rate increases, though Crescenta Valley rates are already the highest among the three agencies, according to a survey conducted by Glendale Water & Power.
All three utilities have had to face the rising costs of water imported from the Municipal Water District of Southern California, which will enact a 15% rate increase over the next two years, on to top of a 20% increase approved last year.
The Crescenta Valley imports about a third of its water from the Foothill Municipal Water District, which in turn relies on imports from the Metropolitan.
Under the new rate structure, average customers using 22,000 gallons would experience an increase of about $8 per bi-monthly bill, while those using 51,000 gallons or more could see increases upwards of $40 per bill.
Customers using 10,000 gallons or less per bimonthly billing cycle would see no change in their water rate, but would still see an increase of about $4 per bill because of an increased water service charge.