James Hunter

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Drought Restrictions 2016?

A little bit of confusion on the part of San Jose Water Company (SJWC) and the actual action by the Board of the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) about the restrictions that might apply after June 30, 2016.

In a phone call CPUC, Water Department clarified  that  "Overuse  Rates"  applied  only  to the Mountain District not not to SJWC  and  other utilities ratepayers  in the  valley. Shortly  afterwards  I also  received  an email  from a  SJWC  Director  addressing  the  same  point. Presently  the "Overuse Charge"  is  only  applicable to Santa  Cruz Mountain District, but  stay  tuned,  as   SCVWD Board  meeting  will address these issues tonight, June 14, 2016.           

The story starts with SJWC submitting ADV 488, 489 and 490, to CPUC Water Department, adjusting the current current water rates. Buried in the documents was:

Quantity Rate Per 100 cu. ft. (Ccf)
Overuse Rates beyond 500 gallons per day limit
Residential Customers with 3/4–inch, 1-inch, 1 1/2-inch or 2-inch meter
For Total Monthly Usage from 0 to 3 Ccf. $4.0366
For Total Monthly Usage from 4 to 18 Ccf. $4.4851
For Total Monthly Usage for 19 to 20 Ccf. $4.9336
For Total Monthly Usage over 20 Ccf. $7.0000
All Other Customers(subject to Special Condition 5) (Note, mountain areas)
For Total Monthly Usage from 0 to 20 Ccf. $4.4851
For Total Monthly Usage over 20 Ccf. $7.0000
https://sjwater.s3.amazonaws.com/files/documents/AL%20490.pdf   Please refer to page 11.

Running a bit late SCVWD scheduled meeting is on Monday, June 13th, the agenda contains references to State Water Resources Board recommendation for conservation. SJWC as usual was very efficient in getting the documentation for monies due to them. Did they jump the gun in their "greed (opinion)" not to miss a cent, keep in mind they want to keep the $8 million tax windfall you paid for because they were not as efficient in notifying CPUC of the effect of the tax changes. It appears there is a double standard regarding our money we pay to them. SJWC is really efficient and somewhat aggressive in collection, see Yelp Rating two stars, keep in mind they get one star for existing. (Bloggers opinion) Oddly enough they don't seem to be as effective in other areas efficient operations, customer service and transparency.

The disturbing issues about this "faux pas" Rate change was published, in the Mercury News, but no reference to "Overuse Rates", also no comparison of rates, before and after, other than a reference to "increase $6.34 per month on the use of 15 CCF or 7.07%". It was also published in an Advise Letter which avoids a public hearing, has a very limited time for ratepayers to submit a complaint and very stringent reasons, for a complaint to be considered:

Blogger is not an attorney, but it appears there is reason to consider items:  3 - omission of reference to  "Overuse Rates", 5 - the  "Overuse Rates" may be inappropriate for an advise letter and 6 - SJWC has not as of June 12th provided information showing that  "Overuse Rates" are not unjust or unreasonable or discriminatory.

There was a similar request in an advise letter in 2013-14, at the start of the drought issues, it seems it was replaced Drought Surcharges 1 and 2. Should SJWC be able to consider anything applied for, but may not be used, approved for future use? Was this a simple oversight since it has been approved and ratepayers simply were not told the decision was made? I'm sure that the SCVWD will after the fact approve  "Overuse Rates", but it certainly looks like a rubber stamp approval, to this blogger.

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