Friday, August 29, 2014

Bob Dunning: Water, water everywhere, at what cost?


From page A2 | July 01, 2014 |

IN SEARCH OF A RATE … although we heard for months that the world would end and we’d likely owe Woodland $50 million if Measure P passed and our water rates were rolled back to pre-May 2013 levels, the city of Davis is still standing … no, we haven’t defaulted on the water project and we haven’t yet had to convince UC Davis to sell the Mondavi Center and ship the profits to Woodland …

Suddenly, in fact, we learned that if we institute new and improved rates by October, the world as we know it will not end after all … tonight may be the night we finally get a rate structure … then again, the council seems completely fractured now that the dreaded CBFR has been buried under six feet of concrete … additionally, no one knows for sure which way council newcomer Robb Davis is leaning on the Great Rate Debate …

Stay tuned, and don’t plant that cactus garden just yet … things are about to get very interesting …

WORDS FROM THE WISE … my friend John writes to inform me that “Our illustrious leaders are on a nationwide search for water rates.” … you have that right, John … “It seems to me that a simple solution would be to drive 12 miles north and talk to the uneducated masses in Woodland and find out about their new water rates.” … I’ve proposed the same thing myself, my friend … “I may be wrong, but I haven’t heard any yelling and screaming from the people to the north about their water rates.” …

True, true, but when Woodland passed its new rates and sent out the required Prop. 218 “protest” notices, most Woodlanders thought it was a summons for jury duty and just ignored it …

MAD AS HELL … my friend Sue, who was a strong supporter of Measure P, writes to say that “after picking the worst rate structure and having it repealed by initiative,” the council is “on the verge of picking the second worst rate structure.” … well, we shall see what we shall see … Sue adds that the council is “obsessing that we are losing $100,000 a month in water rate revenue. So what? Aren’t they the same guys who, without blinking an eye, voted to authorize ‘borrowing’ $600,000 from our wastewater fund for a pie-in-the-sky municipal utility ‘study’ that could never be repaid?” … pretty much the same bunch, indeed, although a new player will be coming into the game tonight …

TEARS FOR TIERS … while the city has in the past employed a “tiered” structure to punish those households who exceed certain usage limits each month, there is a misconception that without tiers so-called “high” water users will not be paying more for water than the rest of us … nothing could be further from the truth … let’s say water costs $5 per ccf without tiers … a low-use household that consumes two ccf per month will pay $10 … a high-use household that consumes 30 ccf per month will pay $150 … the high-use household is paying 15 times as much as the low-use household for a month’s worth of water … which is as it should be, given that the one is using 15 times more water than the other … it appears the City Council is wary of tiers, but we’ll know a lot more about that when the water wars resume tonight …

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE … yes, it’s official, you can now water your lawn without fear you’ll be paying six times as much for summer use as winter use … it’s also true you will no longer be required to pay for your summer 2014 water use each and every month until December of 2015 … it’s all dead and gone, never to see the light of day again …

DEBUNKING THE MYTH … without any research at all, officialdom in this town assumes that all “low” water users are poor folks living on a fixed income, and all “high” water users are rich folks watering the gutter day and night just because they can … the truth of the matter is that most “low” use households have only one or two residents without regard for income, and most “high” use households have seven or eight or nine residents — counting Grandma and Aunt Mary — as they try to deal with the high cost of housing in Davis … tiers punish “high” users without regard for household size or income level … hopefully our current council is progressive enough to give such rates a decent burial …

— Reach Bob Dunning at





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