Tuesday, March 3, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Council emphasizes conservation in new water rate design

By
From page A1 | July 03, 2014 |

The Davis City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to pursue a water-rate design that relies almost exclusively on a pay-as-you-go, unit-by-unit charge.

The framework is based on a water rate crafted by Matt Williams, one of the architects of the controversial consumption-based fixed rate, and Donna Lemongello, a critic of CBFR, which was rejected by voters on June 3.

The new 87-percent variable rate design is aimed squarely at conservation. It spares low-end residential users much of the expense of a higher fixed rate, but tags high-end users with ostensibly more of an equal share of the cost of the water than a design with a higher fixed rate, according to graphs shown by Williams.

Low water users are those who use less than the median 11 ccf of water per month; high water users consume roughly 29 ccf per month.

The new design is another victory for Measure P supporters, who have been vocal champions of a rate design that is as close to 100 percent variable, or volumetric, as politically palatable for the City Council.

“The fairest thing to do is to charge per gallon used,” said former Mayor Sue Greenwald, a primary proponent of Measure P.

The rate is by no means novel. Other communities like Paso Robles, San Francisco and Santa Rosa have high volumetric rates, according to city staff and Councilman Lucas Frerichs. However, the 87 percent volumetric rate will need to be underpinned by an $8.5 million rate stabilization fund, taken from water revenue, to satisfy lenders in the water rate bond market.

Douglas Dove, president of water rate consultants Bartle Wells, cited that figure and included a quote from Mark Northcross, the city’s bond market adviser, saying a high volumetric rate could downgrade the city’s water bonding rating from “A+” to “A.”

While that may not sound too bad, if it happens, it could increase the interest rate the city pays for bonding on millions of dollars.

While the City Council chose a new rate design Tuesday, it does not mean that rate will go into effect right away. The council still must vote again to approve Proposition 218 notice language explaining the rate to ratepayers and provide a protest vote process.

According to Herb Niederberger, Davis general manager of utilities, a series of actions related to the Prop. 218 process could take until Oct. 1 to finish. That would be just in time to establish the new rate and begin collecting payments to meet Davis’ obligations for the joint Woodland-Davis surface water project.

But it was not all kumbaya Tuesday during the City Council’s deliberations and with members of the public who spoke about the water rate designs.

Elaine Roberts Musser, a local attorney and chair of the city’s Utility Rate Advisory Committee, urged the council to go with a 60 percent volumetric rate design with a 40-percent fixed component. That structure, she said, would result in the lowest possible bonding interest rate and would not be as much of a burden on high-end irrigators, like the Davis school district and the city, who are supported by taxpayers.

Plus, the council should act fast to secure new rates and not take its time, Musser said, as local attorney and Measure P proponent Michael Harrington once suggested to the URAC.

“Let’s focus on fulfilling Davis’ obligation in a timely manner,” Musser said.

Councilman Brett Lee voted with the rest of the council after spending weeks suggesting that he would vote for the 40-percent fixed rate design. Lee questioned Tuesday whether the cost of replacing water meters is part of the 13-percent fixed cost of the rate the other four council members were supporting.

Dove’s answer was yes, seemingly resolving the issue for Lee.

Mayor Dan Wolk cited Article 10 of the state Constitution when he made the motion to move ahead with the high volumetric rate design. The action was to ensure the legal defensibility of a high volumetric rate because that section of the state Constitution explicitly calls for conservation measures.

Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis asked city staff to come back with quarterly reports on the state of water conservation in Davis.

Councilwoman Rochelle Swanson summed up the council majority’s thinking when she said it is the policy makers who must come up with the best political calculation possible.

“I think (the 87-percent volumetric rate) is the right thing to do because it’s good for conservation,” she said, adding that the URAC did its job, despite not being able to recommend a rate.

“I think they made it clear this was a decision that the council had to make.”

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

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

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

  • .

    News

    Budget standoff leaves California college hopefuls in limbo

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Nominees sought for city’s human rights awards

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1

    Pedal power: It’s a different kind of March Madness

    By Felicia Alvarez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    STEM-Tastic Sunday highlights summer opportunities

    By Chloe Lessard | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    County: Baby Justice was on Social Services’ radar

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    House to vote on Homeland bill without conditions

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    State to supply just 20 percent of water

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Bob Dunning: Rampant crime on the streets of Davis

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2, 1 Comment | Gallery

    For the record

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Appeals court upholds protection for threatened seabird

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Pets of the week

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    ‘Pearls Before Swine’ joins daily comics lineup

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Winter market wraps up Wednesday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Public broadband, on ‘Davisville’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Alcoholic liver disease strikes Hispanics years earlier

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Embroiderers will discuss needlework tools

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Tuleyome needs volunteers for work party

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

    Holmes’ talent showcased

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Bingo games Sunday will benefit DHS Madrigals’ trip

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Go all in for fun at Texas Hold ‘Em tournament

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    DCC Nursery School hosts open house

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Join a fitness party at Zumba class

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Logos Books hosts conversation groups, poetry readings

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Get a taste of Middle Earth at library

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Sure and begorrah!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    Overeaters get support at meetings

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6Comments are off for this post

    Cycle de Mayo kicks off Bike Month

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    Klein’s book featured at Authors on the Move

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    City says it did not OK Ygrene mailers

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A6

    .

    Forum

    The kids aren’t interested

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    One more family insult

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    Thanks for act of kindness

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A8

    Cannery CFD creates unequal taxation patchwork

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Climate changes are inevitable

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

    Act for our children’s future

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    UCD alums will want to stay

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

    End the use of this word

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Sports

    In the Clubhouse: Summerhays Jr. talks about new post at El Macero CC

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Lady Blue Devils in semis Tuesday night

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Aggie men host two big ones this week

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Dream run ends for Davis’ master wrestlers

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devil boys net an easy tennis victory

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Newly acquired Smith scores in Sharks’ victory

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Aggie lacrosse team takes home opener

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

    Blue Devil girls look for revenge in the pool

    By Kellen Browning | From Page: B10 | Gallery

     
    DHS boys aim to repeat as section swim champs

    By Kellen Browning | From Page: B10

    .

    Features

    Name Droppers: Dunn graduates from Marine Corps basic training

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    .

    Arts

    Thursday Live! features Keith Cary, Wyatt Hesemeyer

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

     
    Songs of the Civil War to be performed by Anonymous 4

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Davis Chorale starts year with demanding music

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Dieter W. Gruenwedel

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Otto Vasak

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 (set 1)

    By Creator | From Page: B5

     
    Comics: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 (set 2)

    By Creator | From Page: B7