Water bills are going up for residents in Zone 7, which includes Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin and the Dougherty Valley portion of San Ramon. A 5% increase approved Oct. 19 should translate into an additional $1.88 to the monthly water bills of typical households.
Board members said the raise in rates will ensure reliable service and establish funding for infrastructure investments. The district is also setting aside fund for water-quality improvements such as taste- and odor-control projects and demineralization to reduce water hardness.
The rate increase was necessary, in part, to maintain Zone 7's 40 miles of pipeline, nine municipal wells, three water treatment plants and a groundwater demineralization facility, all of which were built more than 40 years ago.
"In this period of tight budgets, Zone 7 continues to maintain a high level of service while achieving cost-efficiencies in operations and maintenance," Board President Sandy Figuers said.
Efficiency measures include a soft hiring freeze, employee benefit and cost-of living wage concessions and lowered costs of outside contracts by using more-house resources. The district has also reduced chemical costs by participating in the Bay Area Chemical Consortium.
The board considered raising rates up to 10% but decided on the 5% to help out its ratepayers in these difficult economic times. All of the board members emphasized that, while nobody likes a rate increase, a minimal level was necessary to avoid a spike next year when still the economy may be bad.
Zone 7's operating budgets for this fiscal year and for 2012-13 are $2.2 million and $2.5 million, respectively, less than for 2010-11, the board reported.