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Glendale’s drought charge to remain at 75 cents

Drought charge staying the same

While the drought rate is in the second phase, watering restrictions are currently in phase three, which limits watering to just two days a week.

(Tim Berger / Staff Photographer)

A drought charge on local water bills will not be increased, City Council decided Tuesday, because the existing fee continues to cover a decline in revenues, according to the city’s top utility official.

Last spring, an extra 75 cents per hundred cubic feet of water — or 748 gallons — was added to bills from Glendale Water & Power.

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But the drought charge wasn’t tacked on because people were using too much water — it was because they’re consuming less.

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When customers buy less water, revenue drops for the utility, while maintenance costs for delivering water remain the same, said Steve Zurn, the utility’s general manager.

What’s known as the phase-two drought charge has been generating enough to level off the decline in revenues, which have lowered about 20% as residents consistently conserve, Zurn said.

City Manager Scott Ochoa praised utility customers for stepping up and responding to the drought.

“Our residents and customers have been doing a tremendous job on the issue of conservation,” Ochoa said.

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The state initially mandated a 20% curtailment target for Glendale, which was surpassed as the community achieved an average 22% reduction between June 2015 and this past January.

While the drought rate is in the second phase, watering restrictions are currently in phase three, which limits watering to just two days a week.

In phase three of the drought charge, the rate would have jumped to $1.30 per hundred cubic feet of water.

The typical single-family customer uses about 1,900 cubic feet of water each month, which equates to an extra $14.25 under the current phase-two hike.

The increased rate would have upped the total to $24.70 in extra charges per month based on the above example.

Glendale was among the first cities in the state to implement a drought rate.

Zurn said utilities in other nearby communities are going to have raise their water rates in response to the declining revenues.

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“Other agencies haven’t had the foresight that you did to do that,” he told the council.

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Arin Mikailian, arin.mikailian@latimes.com

Twitter: @ArinMikailian

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