The biggest water users within the Crescenta Valley Water District, which includes several west La Cañada Flintridge households, will see significant increases on their next water bill under a new rate structure adopted Tuesday.
The district’s board of directors Tuesday voted 4 to 1 to approve the new structure that was crafted to pass on recent rate increases imposed by regional wholesale water suppliers. The approved changes also allow for future rate hikes on imported water to be passed on without additional action by the board.
The Crescenta Valley imports about 40% of its water from the Foothill Municipal Water District, which in turn relies on imports from Metropolitan.
In response to the state’s water crisis, Metropolitan instituted a 20% rate hike in September, which Foothill Municipal passed along to the Crescenta Valley Water District. Metropolitan instituted an additional rate increase Friday, with another prospective increase of roughly 12% scheduled for next year — all of it trickling down to Crescenta Valley.
District officials said they could no longer absorb the higher rates, which have been compounded by increased costs for maintenance and operations.
Under the new structure, residents will face water rate increases of up to 15%, but those hikes will mainly be felt by the district’s biggest water users in accordance with the district’s tiered rate structure, officials said. The Foothill Municipal charge will be broken out as a new line item on water bills.
The decision was the board’s first major move since November’s election in which two challengers replaced incumbents.
Kerry Erickson, James Bodnar and incumbent Richard Atwater won the three available seats on the district’s five-person board, while incumbent board President Vasken Yardemian and incumbent director Charles Beatty were unseated.
The new board directors were vocal at Tuesday’s meeting, with Erickson voting against the new structure and Bodnar successfully proposing an amendment that will result in slightly lower water bills for the district’s lowest water users.
Erickson said he was concerned about the break-out Foothill Municipal charge to low-volume users, even though their bills wouldn’t increase.
“I’m not comfortable with the structure as proposed,” he said.
As a result of the new structure, the average household will see an increase of about 50 cents per two-month billing cycle. Schools and multifamily units would see a similarly slight rate increase, according to the district.
Customers using 10,000 gallons or less per two-month billing cycle will actually see lower water bills. Under the amendment suggested by Bodnar, they will also receive a credit of up to $1 on their water bill in addition to the current $5.50 credit to their wastewater charge.
Bodnar stressed he wanted to reward customers who were conserving the most.
“It’s sending the message to the community that those who use less are getting a lower water bill,” he said.
Customers will see the new rates on their next utility bills, which are set to go out later this month, officials said.