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Davis, California

Friday, May 24, 2024

Five-year water rate increase not yet finalized

Woodland and Davis are looking to deviate from their current groundwater situation in favor of a regional surface water supply project, according to the city of Davis website.

According to the site, Sacramento River water will be treated at a regional facility and will be piped to the citizens of Davis and Woodland. The project, which is due to be completed in 2016, will guarantee more dependable, higher quality water, allowing the city to comply with the increasingly rigid state and water quality regulations.

If the proposed project is approved by the City of Davis City Council, water rates will increase incrementally over a five-year period. This cost hike has been reason for concern for Davis citizens and business owners alike. With the proposed plan, water rates could nearly triple between now and 2016. The city of Davis site provided an example of a single-family currently paying $29.50 a month on their monthly water bill. With these changes, by next year this same family could be paying as much as $41.72 a month and as much as $99.64 per month by 2016.

Last week, the Davis Downtown Business Association (DDBA) hosted a brown-bag lunch presentation on the proposed increases to city’s water rates at the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame. Among those in attendance were citizens, business owners and city councilmembers. Jacques Dubra, the city of Davis utilities manager, was present to answer questions and describe the project and proposed rate increases.

“It’s going to be a sloppy process because most businesses don’t know what their current water rates are,” said Michael Bisch, owner of Davis Commercial Properties and co-president of the DDBA. “Out of 100 tenants, none have inquired about the rise in rates. I believe the city should bypass the landlords and inform the tenants themselves.”

Most of the concern with the proposed project was the price increases effect on local business and homeowners.

“Will there be any exemptions for small businesses contributing to the economy?” asked Thomas Miller, an employee of Sudwerk Restaurant and Brewery. “Between the restaurant and brewery we are [already] paying $100,000 a year on water.”

While these concerns were present, the public was assured that not only is this the best option for the citizens and business owners. Dubra explained that there are hidden costs in our current water system. According to Dubra, the Davis community spends $6 million for its hard water supply, to pay for things such as having to use more soap.

On the other hand, treated water allows appliances to last longer and lowers heating costs.

“If you look at studies that started in the 1980s, this is the most cost effective,” said Davis Mayor Joe Krovoza. “This is the smartest, most efficient way to get clean water to the community.”

Among other hidden costs presented to those in attendance is the element of the unknown when drilling wells into the aquifer.

“When drilling holes, you don’t know if the water is going to be adequate or will need treatment,” said Councilmember Stephen Souza. “For example, it was $2.2 million to drill Well 32 and another $1.7 million to treat it. [Compared to the current system] this would [be] twice the cost and not even close to the quality.”

A public hearing on the proposed water rate increase is scheduled for 6:30 p.m on Sept. 6 in the City of Davis Community Chambers at 23 Russell Blvd.

ELLIS CLARK can be reached at city@theaggie.org.


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