Wednesday, July 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Water affordability is a city responsibility

By
From page A11 | January 06, 2013 |

By Holly Bishop, Pam Nieberg and Nancy Price

Measure I directs the city to pursue the Woodland-Davis water supply project to provide 12 million gallons per day (mgd) of Sacramento River water to Davis and 18 mgd to Woodland. This project uses primarily surface water, but relies on groundwater (conjunctive use) when water demands are highest in the summer and drought years. The city attorney’s “impartial analysis” of the project states that Davis’ share of the cost would be roughly $120 million, yet the total cost for Davis could rise to $300 million.

Here’s why you should vote no on Measure I on March 5:

* Total project costs are unknown and unaffordable. The City Council is asking residents for a blank check because accurate total costs are unknown. No final contract has been bid, negotiated or approved by the Davis and Woodland city councils to design, build and operate this water project. Thus, the real amount needed for bond financing, including added debt service, is a guess.

When concerned residents challenged the City Council rates proposed in September 2011, we demanded that ratepayers be able to vote on any water rate increases, yet Measure I includes no rates and renters are excluded from the Proposition 218 process that takes place after the Measure I vote. Why are we voting on a project when details of true cost and rates are not on the ballot?

Measure I proponents state “rates will rise regardless of this project.” Yet no comparison between rates without and with the project is provided. This deliberately conceals the magnitude of rate increases with the project. Total project costs must include debt service, and also needed upgrades to our current system and purchase of Conaway Ranch water rights. In total, the cost to ratepayers of $30 million per year over many years is likely.

* It’s not about cost savings with conservation. The proposed project generates huge fixed infrastructure costs for water delivery. But water conservation that reduces city revenue creates the need for an equal increase in the cost of water to pay for the fixed infrastructure and water delivery costs. So, while conserving water is good, conservation will not significantly reduce costs and impacts heavy users such as schools, public parks and pools, and businesses.

* Impact on local and regional economy. There has been no fiscal analysis of this impact. Under this proposal, single-family water bills would more than triple by 2018, giving Davis and Woodland some of the most expensive water statewide. Including the wastewater treatment plant upgrade, Davis utility bills could reach over $3,000 per year, burdening households, especially those on fixed incomes.

Furthermore, high-water-use businesses will see costs rise and could pass these to the consumer. Extra household expenses will adversely impact local and regional economies, making it more difficult to pass measures to support our schools and public parks, play fields and pools. This should concern the Davis Chamber of Commerce and Davis Board of Education, yet representatives of these groups have endorsed this project.

* It’s a rushed project. Water quantity and quality are not an issue. No emergency exists either for additional water supply or to meet wastewater discharge requirements. With the recent addition of new deep aquifer wells to our system, our water quantity has improved considerably and the city can continue to supply affordable water to residents. Davis groundwater levels fluctuate, but are recovering to normal levels, so there is no danger of over-drafting the groundwater.

State Department of Water Resources studies show that area groundwater has not deteriorated in quantity over the past 50 years. In summer months, only up to 4 mgd of river water will be available and even less in drought years. Davis uses an average of 10 mgd and has a firm groundwater capacity of roughly 50 mgd. Significantly, modest, cost-effective improvements in groundwater management should keep Davis supplied with affordable water for years.

Water from deep wells has improved quality and softness. Currently, Davis meets all water quality standards and will in future years. There is no issue with selenium or salinity in the wastewater discharge, one reason given for urgent need of this project. River water is not necessary to meet our discharge requirements, nor will it significantly lower the costs of wastewater treatment.

* The project is unfair. Davis ratepayers will pay 30 percent more per gallon of water than Woodland pays. The Davis Water Advisory Committee did not endorse a project with this inequitable cost-sharing agreement. Why should Davis subsidize Woodland’s outsized development plans?

Vote no on Measure I. The real project costs and benefits must be better analyzed. Affordability means not creating financial hardship or undesirable economic impacts. Tripled water rates together with increased wastewater rates will burden residents and negatively impact the local economy by decreasing discretionary spending. If Davis residents want to ensure that affordability and sustainability of the community as stated in the General Plan are upheld, it is imperative that Measure I be defeated.

The Water Advisory Committee spent most of its time discussing rates, but even a brief review of the project led to a one-third reduction in size and scope. What other cost savings can be made? A thorough project analysis must occur and rates must be made public before any vote. Davis residents need to vote no on Measure I to ensure affordable water for the future.

— Holly Bishop, Pam Nieberg and Nancy Price are Davis residents and members of Citizens for Clean, Reliable and Affordable Water.

Special to The Enterprise

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    Are arachnids awesome or awful? Visit Bohart Museum to find out

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    NAMI program offers mental illness information, support

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Backpacks for Kids launches annual donation drive

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Architecture in Davis, on ‘Davisville’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Speaker will spin some fishing tales at Davis meeting

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Kids can paint their own Breyer horses at Davis store

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Grandparents support group meets weekly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Kaiser awards grants to Yolo nonprofits

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Exchange program seeks host families

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Wine-tastings will benefit YCCC

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Pedro party will benefit Yolo Hospice

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Car lovers will speak Sunday at gallery

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Racial diversity crucial to drug trials, treatments

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A4

    Enterprise is focus of Davis Roots talk

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    .

    Forum

    U.S. is complicit in attack

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Extinguish extremism for peace

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    With profound gratitude

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Someday, there will be peace

    By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    .

    Sports

    Former Davis man at crossroads: biking or artwork?

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Aggie golfer headed to men’s U.S. Amateur Championship

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Giants outlast Phillies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    A’s fall in extra innings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Blue Jays hitting upends Red Sox

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Pyrenees please Nibali, Rogers in Tour Stage 16

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Albergotti to discuss Armstrong’s doping scandal

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8

     
    .

    Features

    Field to Fork: Skyelark Ranch, not a lark at all

    By Dan Kennedy | From Page: A8 | Gallery

     
    Name droppers: ASUCD hands out awards

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    .

    Arts

    Additional casting notice for ‘Hello Dolly’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Hear Los Tres de Winters on Thursday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Picott to play at The Palms Playhouse

    By Kate Laddish | From Page: A7

     
    Fairy-tale romance in Barnyard Theatre’s ‘Pinky’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Soar to Neverland with DMTC’s ‘Peter Pan’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    Village Homes to host Rita Hosking Trio

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    Tomato Festival makes call for young artists

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Wednesday, July 23, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6