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Santa Clara Valley Water District board approves 9.1% rate increase

The board signed off Tuesday on a rate hike for the 2022 fiscal year

The water district board on Tuesday approved a 9.1% rate increase for the 2022 fiscal year. The rate hike would help fund an environmental impact report for the proposed Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project, which aims to boost the reservoir’s capacity. Courtesy Valley Water

Water rates in Santa Clara County are increasing as the county faces looming threats of drought.

On Tuesday, the Santa Clara Valley Water District board of directors unanimously approved a 9.1% rate increase for the 2022 fiscal year.

Starting July 1, 2021 until June 30, 2022, the average county resident will pay an additional $4.30 to $4.82 per month in their water bill.

Board chair Tony Estremera said the increases will help pay for additional emergency water needed to meet the demand of residents and keep groundwater at healthy levels.

"It will also allow our community to prepare for droughts and other natural disasters by bolstering our water conservation programs, expanding the use of recycled water and starting work on the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project, which will protect public safety and increase water storage capacity in the county," Estremera said.

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The rate increase will also be used to fund an environmental impact report for the $2.5 billion Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project -- a project that has been met with opposition from San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and environmental group the Sierra Club.

The expansion project would increase the reservoir's operational capacity from 5,500 acre-feet to up to 140,000 acre-feet, allowing the county to store more of its water locally.

Currently, the county buys 50% of its water supply and a lot of it is stored in water banks farther away.

The water travels through levees and pipes to get to the county, but in the case of a serious drought, vice chair Gary Kremen said the county may not be able to access that water.

"It's kind of like a bank account, where when you need it, you can't get it out, which is unfortunate that it doesn't work in critically dry years," Kremen said.

But to Liccardo, spending $2.5 billion on a project that would not increase water supply is not a smart investment.

Last week, Liccardo encouraged the board to look at other conservation or other water supply increase projects to fund instead.

At the Tuesday meeting, resident Greg Stein asked board members why they were not considering such projects instead of the reservoir expansion.

Kremen responded that the board is looking at all the options.

"[That's why we got to get to this environmental impact report before we make our decisions, because the environmental impact report has alternatives," Kremen said.

The cost of the environmental impact report is about .28 cents per month for the average household, Estremera said.

Even without the proposed Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project, water rates would still increase by 8.5% to fund additional water purchases, the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project and other conservation and sustainability programs.

At the meeting, the board also voted to develop a one-year low-income residential water rate assistance program that will help low-income county households pay their water bills during the pandemic.

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Santa Clara Valley Water District board approves 9.1% rate increase

The board signed off Tuesday on a rate hike for the 2022 fiscal year

by / Bay City News Service

Uploaded: Wed, May 12, 2021, 1:38 pm

Water rates in Santa Clara County are increasing as the county faces looming threats of drought.

On Tuesday, the Santa Clara Valley Water District board of directors unanimously approved a 9.1% rate increase for the 2022 fiscal year.

Starting July 1, 2021 until June 30, 2022, the average county resident will pay an additional $4.30 to $4.82 per month in their water bill.

Board chair Tony Estremera said the increases will help pay for additional emergency water needed to meet the demand of residents and keep groundwater at healthy levels.

"It will also allow our community to prepare for droughts and other natural disasters by bolstering our water conservation programs, expanding the use of recycled water and starting work on the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project, which will protect public safety and increase water storage capacity in the county," Estremera said.

The rate increase will also be used to fund an environmental impact report for the $2.5 billion Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project -- a project that has been met with opposition from San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and environmental group the Sierra Club.

The expansion project would increase the reservoir's operational capacity from 5,500 acre-feet to up to 140,000 acre-feet, allowing the county to store more of its water locally.

Currently, the county buys 50% of its water supply and a lot of it is stored in water banks farther away.

The water travels through levees and pipes to get to the county, but in the case of a serious drought, vice chair Gary Kremen said the county may not be able to access that water.

"It's kind of like a bank account, where when you need it, you can't get it out, which is unfortunate that it doesn't work in critically dry years," Kremen said.

But to Liccardo, spending $2.5 billion on a project that would not increase water supply is not a smart investment.

Last week, Liccardo encouraged the board to look at other conservation or other water supply increase projects to fund instead.

At the Tuesday meeting, resident Greg Stein asked board members why they were not considering such projects instead of the reservoir expansion.

Kremen responded that the board is looking at all the options.

"[That's why we got to get to this environmental impact report before we make our decisions, because the environmental impact report has alternatives," Kremen said.

The cost of the environmental impact report is about .28 cents per month for the average household, Estremera said.

Even without the proposed Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project, water rates would still increase by 8.5% to fund additional water purchases, the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project and other conservation and sustainability programs.

At the meeting, the board also voted to develop a one-year low-income residential water rate assistance program that will help low-income county households pay their water bills during the pandemic.

Comments

Dan Waylonis
Registered user
Jackson Park
on May 12, 2021 at 2:30 pm
Dan Waylonis, Jackson Park
Registered user
on May 12, 2021 at 2:30 pm

Wow that's breathtaking. I guess it'll fit in nicely with the inflation that seems to be gaining ground now, unsurprisingly with record money printing by the fed.


SRB
Registered user
St. Francis Acres
on May 13, 2021 at 7:58 am
SRB, St. Francis Acres
Registered user
on May 13, 2021 at 7:58 am

I am confused, I thought that Measure S just passed in November, had these two projects in its priority list: Pacheco Reservoir Expansion and Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit.




Raymond
Registered user
Monta Loma
on May 13, 2021 at 2:21 pm
Raymond , Monta Loma
Registered user
on May 13, 2021 at 2:21 pm

Does the water district have an estimate of how much rates will have to rise to serve MV additional 18,000 housing units?


Nora S.
Registered user
Rex Manor
on May 13, 2021 at 11:20 pm
Nora S., Rex Manor
Registered user
on May 13, 2021 at 11:20 pm

What is the cost of the environmental impact report?


ivg
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 14, 2021 at 8:22 am
ivg, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on May 14, 2021 at 8:22 am

Excellent point, SRB.


SRB
Registered user
St. Francis Acres
on May 14, 2021 at 12:08 pm
SRB, St. Francis Acres
Registered user
on May 14, 2021 at 12:08 pm

Also, what ever happened to Gary Kremen's campaign promise to try to overturn the "unfair" State Water Project tax the Water District charges North County residents?


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