Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Committee sets out to make new water rates

From page A1 | June 06, 2014 |

What is a fair water rate? What will pay the bills? Is the city going to get sued anyway?

Meeting for the first time since Measure P passed at the polls Tuesday with a narrow majority, the members of the city’s Utility Rate Advisory Committee came to few conclusions Thursday night, but had many questions.

Measure P was approved by 51.2 percent of voters Tuesday, with 264 votes separating the yes and no crowd. With 7,200 additional ballots to be counted countywide, if the result holds, it will repeal water rates set in May 2013 and reinstate those set in 2010.

According to committee consultant Douglas Dove of Bartle Wells Associates, if that happens, the city will lose $215,000 in revenue each month and about $2.5 million each year.

Herb Niederberger, the city’s general manager of utilities, said representatives of the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency told him the city would be able to get low-interest loans from the state if new water rates are in place through a Proposition 218 process by Oct. 1.

Niederberger said that meant the committee would have to recommend a rate structure to the City Council by July 1. The council is due to hear an update on the committee’s actions on June 10 and is expected to have a more substantial discussion about the rates on June 24.

With the time crunch, questions surrounding Measure P, legal exposure and list of different water rates presented and their various iterations, the committee has an unenviable task ahead of it.

At one point, committee alternate Gerry Braun asked Dove if the rate structures he presented were “bulletproof” against potential lawsuits.

“We’re in Davis; we think it will be subject to a lawsuit,” Dove said. “We’re confident in what we presented.”

Dove’s presentation showcased four different water rate structures based on four different kinds of loans the city might get for the surface water project: market rate at conservative interest rates, market rate at current interest rates and others based on lower interest rates.

Dove assumed current interest rates at about 6 percent, or $10.5 million per year in cost. State low-interest loans would mean a lower payback, estimated at $7.7 million per year.

A couple of structures have three tiers for different consumption rates. The higher the water use, the higher the tier and the more expensive each gallon becomes. One option has a single uniform tier by class: commercial or single-family home, for example. Another option has a seasonal tier system, with one rate for the winter months and another for the summer, with the summer rate more expensive than the winter.

Matt Williams and Donna Lemongello presented a consumption-based rate that does away with a six-month summer water use measurement that would determine the cost of water for the following year. The new tweak has the consumption-based rate change the cost to the customer month by month based on each month’s use of water.

Yet committee members were wary of how each rate would appear to the public.

“You’re not going to please everyone in the community,” committee member Frank Loge said. Loge is a UC Davis professor of water use and efficiency and helped Williams create the consumption-based rate repealed by Measure P.

Committee member Greg Clumpner, director of a private consulting firm, NBS — Government Financing Group, asked what exactly Measure P did. Niederberger said the committee would need an attorney to get an official, exact interpretation.

Committee member Richard McCann, who works with M. Cubed, a local energy, water and environmental economics and policy consulting firm, convinced the committee that whatever the legal interpretation, the City Council already has determined the political implications, that the old consumption-based rate was too unpopular.

“I think their political wind detection is better than ours,” he said.

Committee member Johannes Troost, a consultant with the state Department of Education, asked what fairness meant, and after the committee agreed it could mean different things to different people, suggested the committee submit a rubric of  different water rate structures to the City Council.

Each structure would reflect how many committee votes it got, and a “minority report” of structures that didn’t receive majority votes would be included.

“That way we don’t have to weigh in on ‘this way is the best way,’ ” he said. Troost got general agreement on that principle, but a warning from Niederberger.

“We could come up with the most fair rate in the world and everybody could agree on it, but if it doesn’t pay the bills we’re screwed,” he said.

The committee meets again at 6:30 p.m. June 12 at a placed to be determined.

— Reach Dave Ryan at or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews






  • Recent Posts

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

  • .


    Family enterprise builds a home for music

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Bob Dunning: Poll dancing, direct from Las Vegas

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Health premiums rose significantly in 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Mosquito districts sprays tonight

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Davis native named a Schweitzer Fellow

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Biggest book sale to date opens Friday at Davis library

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Share your love of nature with young wetlands visitors

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Tasting event benefits Yolo Land Trust

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

    Movies in the Park return this fall

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Tee off for Davis’ continued prosperity

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

    Center for Families hosts Summer Carnival

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Vintage car show planned this fall

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Kiwanis golf tournament supports local agencies

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Drop off school supplies at Edward Jones offices

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Wine-tastings will benefit YCCC

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    DHS Class of ’94 set 20th reunion

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Tips, techniques will give you a green thumb

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Grief support focuses on journaling

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    How the Bockler wasp got its name

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Yolo County CASA seeks volunteer child advocates

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    UC Davis alumnus hopes to bring amateur radio to Nepal

    By Rachel Uda | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    Recycle old paint cans for free

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8



    Not sure which direction to go

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    Gravel mining affects us all

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Violence as entertainment

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Shocked at vampires story

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Paul Krugman: Corporate artful dodgers

    By Paul Krugman | From Page: A6

    Nicholas Kristof: The world’s coolest places

    By Nicholas Kristof | From Page: A6



    Fiona Buck pushes the limits in para-athletics

    By Felicia Alvarez | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    A’s rally to win

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Morse homers but Giants lose 6th straight

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Nightmare on Ballpark Drive for River Cats

    By Will Bellamy | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Schaub settles in as Raiders starting QB

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2





    UCD professor Andy Jones named Davis’ new poet laureate

    By Rachel Uda | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Molten art on display at Davis Arts Center

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    Brady earns top honors at State Fair

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    Smither releases new CD Saturday at The Palms

    By Kate Laddish | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    RootStock kicks off ‘Día de Albariño’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    Folk musicians will jam in the Arboretum

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    YoloArts to host a state of change exhibit

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9





    Calvin D. Rourke

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4



    Comics: Wednesday, July 30, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6