James Hunter

Saturday, September 5, 2015

What is water really costing us, SJWC, DS1 and DS2?

If San Jose Water Company (SJWC) can redact content, I guess I can as well. My justification is to avoid publishing my personal address, what's their justification?

Most residential customers are billed bi-monthly. You will be charged at the current rates for all the units consumed. In addition to the current charges, each unit of water in excess of your allocation will be charged as follows:
  • Drought Surcharge 1 (DS1): Excess consumption over allocation up to the 2013 monthly average will be charged at $3.56 per unit 
  • Drought Surcharge 2 (DS2): Excess consumption over the 2013 monthly average will be charged at $7.13 per unit 
Note that the surcharge will be prorated, calculated based on your excess usage. In my case even though I reduced usage 56% compared to the prior year, I was charged a small drought surcharge (heck call a spade a spade a penalty).

In any month the table, shows 2013 county wide average, the Drought Allocation is the amount you get at the present rate. DS1 applies for the difference between the 2013 amount and the current Drought Allocation, for example in September 2015 you would pay roughly $6.38 for each unit 0-13, for units 13-19 (6 units) $6.38 + $3.56 (DS1) = $9.94 and for your usage over 19 units you would pay  $6.38 + $7.12 (DS2) = $13.50 per unit. So if you used 22 units in September it would cost you:

 ($6.38 x 13) + ($9.94 x 6) + ($13.50 x 3) = $183.08 + $33.42 = $216.50
plus all the surcharges and taxes about $33.42

A simple example is to also look at the markup. I bought 22 units (CCF) for $183.08, to put that in perspective I'm paying $3624.98 per acre foot that SCVWD sells to SJWC for about $1200 per acre foot. That's a 3X markup - pretty good business!

Then I checked to see what I was paying last year verse what I'm paying this year. My simplistic accounting method is divide the total bill by the amount of water in CCF (100 cubic feet). Surprise my cost had increased from an effective cost of $4.08/CCF to $6.38/CCF or about an effective increase in a year of 55%.

Busy little bookkeepers at SJWC and the large "Regulatory Affairs" staff we pay for, busy looking at getting every penny they can get. Notice that SCVWD (Santa Clara Valley Water District) has got at least six itemized references for a total $10.00, plus their markup on the actual water they provide to SJWC and their annual parcel tax embedded in our property tax.  If SCVWD can afford to spend county residents money on a very expensive PR firm, to justify their parcel tax, maybe their getting too much of our money.

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