Sunday, April 20, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Bob Dunning: Don’t digest these crazy rates with tap water

BobDunning2W

By
From page A2 | March 03, 2013 | Leave Comment

Well, we’ve just about come to the end of this wet and occasionally muddy campaign to bring the waters of the sometimes muddy but always mighty Sacramento River to the wash basins and sprinkler systems of the Second Most Educated City in America.

And please, at this late date, don’t tell the ACLU the Sacramento River is named after the Most Holy Sacrament of the Catholic Church or there may be yet another lawsuit filed to halt the project on separation of church and state grounds.

I have only a day or two to make up my mind about the need for this $113 million project with the funny rate structure, and so do you.

That is if you haven’t already voted or plan to vote at all.

Yes, oddly, despite the passion of those in the trenches, voter turnout is likely to be low for this single-issue, all-mail election on which the fate of the free world rests. I had planned to make up for this deficiency by buying several clever disguises at East Davis’ center of commerce, the Dollar Tree, and voting 17 times in 17 different precincts, but that restrictive mail-in ballot doesn’t allow such fraud.

One man, one vote, as the court said some years ago. The court didn’t say anything about women voting, but with three sisters, four daughters and one wise and wonderful wife, I’d better not mention that in this household.

I will say this. My decision would have been a lot easier had the city agreed to put the actual rates on the ballot instead of just an up or down vote on the project itself. The two go hand in hand, and are, in fact, dependent upon each other. To separate one from the other may force some people who are open to the project to vote “no” simply because they don’t agree with or don’t understand the complicated — many would say punitive — rate structure.

Had the city adopted a straightforward rate structure, where everyone pays the same amount per gallon for the water they use, perhaps even with a modest tier to charge a bit more to people who like to water the gutter instead of their lawn, this thing might have sailed past the electorate.

Instead, the city came up with a hybrid two-headed monster, with a relatively traditional rate structure for the first year (beginning this May 1) and a completely bizarre structure for the last four years and eight months (beginning May 1 of 2014). This actually exceeds the five-year rate limit set by Prop. 218, but that’s another story for another day.

The first part of the rates, the so-called Bartle Wells structure, is straightforward and easy to understand. It almost certainly complies with Prop. 218’s “proportionality” rule, where everyone pays their fair share and no one is required to pay more than what it costs the city to actually deliver the water to their property.

Conversely, the four-year and eight-month reign of the onerous consumption-based fixed rate, which charges nearly six times more for “summer” (May 1 through Oct. 31) water use than for “winter” (Nov. 1 through April 30) water use, fails the proportionality test unless the city can prove it truly costs six times as much to deliver water in the summer as it does in the winter. Put simply, it can’t.

Woodland, by the way, our swimming buddy in all this, has already raised its rates to pay for the project and charges the exact same rate to its water customers year-round. Bless me Father, I never thought I’d say this, but Woodland is on the right track here and we aren’t.

Under the CBFR, you will be charged 13 times for every drop of water you use during the six-month Endless Summer. Once when you actually use it, and once a month in every single month of the entire next year. Twelve plus one equals 13.

Put simply — and you may wish to sit down with a tall drink of something other than Davis tap water to digest this — the water you use on May 1 of 2014 will still be showing up on your bill in December of 2015, a full 20 months later. If that’s not bizarre, I don’t know what is.

Our own state senator, Lois Wolk, who is well-known for her dedicated efforts in regard to water quality, water conservation and fair pricing, authored AB 2882, which became law in September 2008. It deals primarily with the admirable goal of water conservation.

In part, it requires that “A basic use allocation is established for each customer account that provides a reasonable amount of water for the customer’s needs and property characteristics. Factors used to determine the basic use allocation may include, but are not limited to, the number of occupants, the type of classification of use, the size of lot or irrigated area, and the local climate data for the billing period.”

Although it is only strongly suggested and not mandated by AB 2882, the city nevertheless chose to ignore both the number of occupants and the size of one’s lot in setting its rate structure.

AB 2882 further notes that “Revenues derived from allocation-based conservation water pricing shall not exceed the proportional cost of service attributable to the customer’s parcel.”

In other words, you can’t charge the customer more than it actually costs to deliver the water to his or her residence. Charging this town’s green gardeners and landscape lovers six times more for “summer” water than winter water does just that.

Lois claims otherwise. I disagree.

But I’ll still vote for her when she finally takes my advice and runs for governor after Mr. Brown decides he’s had enough of California politics.

Unless, of course, Danny Boy beats mom to the punch and does it first, in which case I’ll vote for him instead.

— Reach Bob Dunning at bdunning@davisenterprise.net

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

.

News

A springtime ritual

By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Tom Adams seeks Davis school board seat

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1

UCD admits record number; 4,284 from abroad

By Cory Golden | From Page: A1

 
Hub of activity: DHS newspaper keeps evolving

By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Holy fire ceremony draws thousands in Jerusalem

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Tour renovated YCCC facility Thursday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Tour Davis Waldorf School on Wednesday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

The fifth annual Tour de Cluck is soon to be hatched

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

 
Ortiz lawn signs available

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Sign up soon for spring cooking classes

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Robb Davis team to rally on Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Steadfast in their support

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Yolo Hospice offers free grief workshops

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Sign up for Camp Kesem caterpillar crawl

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Quilters gear up for annual show

By Sebastian Onate | From Page: A4

KDVS launches fund drive on Monday

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A5

 
Calling all Scrabble fans

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

League hosts a series of candidate forums

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Hub webpage is seeing traffic increasing

By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A8

Preschool open house set at Davis Waldorf

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

 
Birch Lane celebrates its 50th anniversary

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

Hotel/conference center info meeting set

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

 
Lescroart welcomes all to book-launch party

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A16 | Gallery

DEVO set to serve up 14th annual Winkler Dinner

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16 | Gallery

 
Learn Chinese crafts at I-House

By Sebastian Onate | From Page: A16

.

Forum

Take ownership of your health

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
Not thrilled with lack of symmetry

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

Reliving the agony and ecstasy of spring

By Marion Franck | From Page: A7

 
Keep your baby safe

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
Core values on campus

By Our View | From Page: A12

Road diet? No, city diet!

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12, 3 Comments

 
We’re reveling in our equality

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

Vote no; it’s fiscally responsible

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

 
Rick McKee cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A12

 
Bill is an affront to UC Davis ag biotech and local farmers

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A13

Don’t want to sit in Fix 50 traffic? Consider alternatives

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A13, 1 Comment

 
.

Sports

Devils burn up the track

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
UCD softball shut out by Santa Barbara

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Aggie men shoot 9-under, lead own tourney

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Stars shine in Woody Wilson Classic

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
UCD roundup: Aggie baseball swept away by Highlanders

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

A’s score 3 in ninth, rally past Astros 4-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Features

.

Arts

.

Business

Yolo Federal Credit Union gets WISH funds

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
PG&E pays taxes, fees to county, cities

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

Will Davis get an Old Soul?

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A9

 
Pediatricians, nurse practitioner hired at Woodland Healthcare

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Asian stocks mostly higher after mixed U.S. earnings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Davis Roots will showcase its graduating startups

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14

University Honda wins another President’s Award

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14 | Gallery

 
Dutch Bros. raises $19,000 for girl with leukemia

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14 | Gallery

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Sunday, April 20, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B8