Sunday, September 21, 2014

Water committee to pick rate structure, its last big water project decision

From page A1 | November 08, 2012 |


@Tom Sakash on Twitter

#daviswater on Twitter


Learn more

What: Davis Water Advisory Committee

When: 6:30 p.m. today

Where: Community Chambers, Davis City Hall

Watch it: Live on City Government Channel 16 on Comcast and on AT&T U-Verse Channel 99

The Davis Water Advisory Committee will be asked to make a recommendation on the city’s water rate structure tonight, its last substantial decision regarding the surface water project before the City Council puts the whole thing to a public vote in March.

The committee also could learn rough estimates of potential rates that water customers might see on their utility bills to pay off the debt service on the project over the coming years.

Bartle Wells Associates, the city’s rate consultant, will present two different structures that the city could implement to manage the way it bills its customers.

The first type is called a tiered rate structure, which bills residents on a sliding scale based on how much water customers use per month and then a flat or fixed rate based on the size of their water meter.

The most common water meter size for residents in Davis is 3/4-inch, for which residents currently pay $23 every two months to use.

According to Doug Dove of Bartle Wells, the tiered structure is the most popular in California.

The other option that committee members can choose from is a brand-new type of rate structure, invented by water committee members Frank Loge and Matt Williams.

The never-before-tried structure would bill customers for the water they use on a sliding scale — similar to a tiered structure — while charging proportional base fees based on each customer’s previous year’s use of the entire water system.

As Williams explained to The Enterprise back in September, even when two customers with the same meter size use two very different amounts of water, they still pay the same base fee under a tiered structure.

“Thrifty and extravagant water users pay the same fixed fee, but derive entirely different benefits from the system they fund with their fixed fees,” Williams and Loge wrote in a flier they would later present to the water committee. “The thrifty user’s fixed fees (actually) cover some of the fixed costs the wasteful user imparts on the system, in effect, subsidizing the water waster.”

Loge and Williams believe their consumption-based fixed rate structure would solve that problem.

City Manager Steve Pinkerton said at the time, however, that the new structure could be difficult to implement soon enough to put in place before construction begins on the surface water project.

New rates likely would be set in the spring.

Whatever the committee decides, water rates are likely to double or possibly even triple over the next five years while the city pays off the debt service on the infrastructure and operational costs of the $102 million project.

As WAC Chair Elaine Roberts Musser said in August, the rates will hurt no matter what.

But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have been worse.

Since the water committee went on the job in January, it has chopped off anywhere between $30 million and $60 million from the original price tag of the project that the city of Davis first signed up with Woodland to pursue in 2009, according to city estimations.

Over the course of its work, the committee determined that the original project was too large and subsequently was able to reduce its size by one-fourth from a system providing 40 million gallons of water per day to 30 mgd.

The reduction saved both cities millions of dollars.

The WAC eventually voted 8-2 in October to recommend the smaller Woodland-Davis project to the council over a $90 million West Sacramento alternative because ownership and control of the finished plant would provide more security for Davis in the long run.

West Sacramento would have required the city to buy in as a customer to its existing surface water intake facility on the Sacramento River and then build a pipeline through the Yolo County Bypass to transport the water to town.

The City Council approved the WAC’s recommendation to move forward with the Woodland-Davis project on Oct. 23.

The project will siphon water from the Sacramento River, treat it and pipe it to Davis and Woodland to replace each city’s reliance on ground water for their drinking water supplies.

City Principal Civil Engineer Dianna Jensen has estimated the cost of the project to be about $102 million before operation and maintenance.

— Reach Tom Sakash at or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter @TomSakash



Tom Sakash

Tom Sakash covers the city beat for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at, (530) 747-8057 or @TomSakash.
  • Recent Posts

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

  • .


    Bet Haverim hosts High Holy Day services

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1

    Elementary school counselors: necessary, but poorly funded

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Teams assess damage as wildfire burns

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Driver arrested for DUI after Saturday morning crash

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Jewelry, art for sale at Senior Center

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Davis Community Meals needs cooks

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Help raise funds for juvenile diabetes cure

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Da Vinci awarded $38,000 for restorative justice program

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

    Hawk Hill trip planned Sept. 30

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    UC campus chancellors granted hefty pay raises

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Send kids to camp!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Outdoor yoga marathon celebrates community

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Wise words

    By Sue Cockrell | From Page: A12



    Awareness is key to this fight

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    Are we there yet? Not enough hours in the day to goof off

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A6Comments are off for this post

    Where is this going?

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A6

    We’re living in the Golden State of emergency

    By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A6

    Options for protection come with flu season

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    It’s time for Davis Scouts to stand up for what is right

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    Mike Keefe cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

    Building something at schools’ HQ

    By Our View | From Page: A10

    Don’t sell city greenbelt

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Paso Fino project is flawed

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Paso Fino — it’s not worth it

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Archer will get my vote

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Maybe David can beat Goliath again

    By Lynne Nittler | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    Speak out

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11



    DHS gets on its Morse to beat Edison

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    JV Blue Devils drop low-scoring affair

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B2

    Four local swimmers qualify for Olympic Trials

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

    Republic FC’s fairy tale season continues

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Wire briefs: Giants rally falls short in San Diego

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    ‘We’re a way better team’ than record, says UCD’s Shaffer

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B4 | Gallery

    UCD roundup: Aggie men pound Pomona-Pitzer in the pool

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B4

    Davis 15-year-old making a splash in European F4 series

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8 | Gallery





    ‘Ladies Foursome’ adds shows

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3



    UCD grad’s startup earns kudos at TechCrunch event

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    Styles on target for November debut

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A7

    MBI hires VP of marketing

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Taylor Morrison unveils new Woodland community next weekend

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Rob White: What is an ‘innovation center’?

    By Rob White | From Page: A9



    Carol L. Walsh

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4



    Comics: Sunday, September 21, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B8