Vote no on P: Davis’ water rates are fair, set through open process

By Matt Williams, Bob Schneider, Jerry Adler and Stephen McCord

Measure P is the latest chapter in an open and exhaustive process about the way we deliver and pay for water to Davis ratepayers. The bottom line of that process is that Measure P doesn’t make sense for Davis. Please vote “no” on Measure P.

You may wonder, “Why vote no on Measure P?” Here are some reasons:
* In December 2011, in response to both formal and informal citizen concerns, the City Council “paused” the water project and water rates process and established the Water Advisory Committee.

* In November 2012, after considerable public input and deliberation over a 12-month period, our Water Advisory Committee — made up of 15 hard-working and distinguished members of our community — recommended the best water rate structure for Davis.

* In January 2013, the City Council — using the advice of the Water Advisory Committee, city staff, water industry experts and public finance experts — approved the rates that were noticed via Proposition 218.* In April 2013, the opponents of the water project and the rates took their case to court.
* In February 2013, via a Proposition 218 public notification process, the ratepayers of Davis approved the new five-year water rates.

* In March 2013, in our citywide Measure I vote, the citizens of Davis approved the new water supply project.

* In March 2014, the Yolo Superior Court determined that the city of Davis water rates are proportional and fully compliant with applicable California law.

Even after all of those open, transparent and exhaustive steps, opponents of the approved rates are challenging them yet again with Measure P. All those open, transparent and exhaustive steps are why we urge you to vote “no” on Measure P.
The new rates are based on a simple and just idea: Everyone pays their fair share, both for the water they use, and for the system that brings them their water. The new system promotes fairness for those who don’t use much water — often seniors, low-income residents and those in apartments or with small lots. Traditional water rates severely penalize all those groups. Two-thirds of the residential ratepayers will pay less under the new rate structure than they would have under a rate structure like the one that has existed in Davis for more than 10 years.

The approved rates promote fiscal stability for the water utility, and in the process create a strong incentive for conservation without penalizing customers with rate hikes when they conserve.
In their video argument recorded by Davis Media Access, the Measure P supporters stated that they want “… a fairer rate based on 12-month usage …” A detailed analysis of that idea shows that it would result in increased rates for more than 45,000 Davis residents and decreased rates for approximately 20,000 Davis residents. The people who would be paying more are the residents of Davis who use water prudently, especially outdoor water. The people who would be paying less are the people who make the conscious decision to use substantial amounts of outdoor irrigation water.
Under a possible “12-month usage” plan suggested by Measure P proponents, apartment dwellers and residents of mobile homes would pay an additional $380,000-plus in 2015. Residents of single-family homes who use water carefully would pay an additional $78,000-plus in 2015. Who would benefit? Large lot owners with substantial landscaping would save more than $140,000 in 2015.

If you are a resident of an apartment or mobile home or low-water-use home, and you see irrigation water running through the gutter if Measure P passes, you can say to yourself, “There goes my Measure P money in that gutter.”
If you don’t want to throw your money down the drain, vote “no” on Measure P.
Finally, the current severe drought underscores our need to carefully protect our water resources. Our new water supply project exemplifies this wise strategy: 1) diversifying our supply to include Sacramento River water; 2) continuing use of our higher-quality deep wells when necessary; 3) repurposing lower-quality wells for park irrigation; and 4) reducing customer need for inefficient home treatment systems.
Our approved water rates ensure that basic water needs are served while incentives to conserve remain strong. Your “no” vote advances these values.
Please vote “no” on Measure P to continue our progress toward a clean and reliable long-term water supply. For more information ,visit www.votenoonp.org.

— Matt Williams is a member of the Davis Water Advisory Committee; Bob Schneider is a local environmentalist; Jerry Adler is a former Davis mayor and City Council member; and Stephen McCord is a principal with McCord Environmental.

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