Water bills going up


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.


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Posted by Cindy
a resident of Danbury Park
on Nov 7, 2011 at 8:20 am

I got my water bill last month with a $100.00 increase. Seriuosly, your plan is another increase?

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Posted by member
a resident of Val Vista
on Nov 7, 2011 at 8:26 am

Everyone has been going after pensions for City, State and School workers. I haven't seen any mention about the water district. It seems to me they have flown under the radar

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Posted by Flea Flicker
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2011 at 8:34 am

How much of these one-after-another increases in water rates is due to wacko environmentalists insisting huge amounts of fresh water flow to the ocean to protect a half-inch long smelt?

How many of you that are ticked off with your water bill voted for Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and your left-wing-loon Congressperson? Maybe you should rethink for whom you vote if you are getting tired of the reaming.

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Posted by Lisa
a resident of Lydiksen Elementary School
on Nov 7, 2011 at 8:36 am

With the taste and smell of our water you are raisng prices. Please.....

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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Nov 7, 2011 at 9:53 am

There is something to be said for not drinking too much water or wasting it as most Plutonians are known to do...cut back, save the planet...consider a rock garden, get rid of your work just fine...lizards like to hide under rocks!

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Posted by Sandra
a resident of Birdland
on Nov 7, 2011 at 10:00 am

The water prices are way too high. The sewer charges are more than the water itself. We do our best to conserve water. Hopefully, with the rainy season coming the increase in cost will be small.

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Posted by GX
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2011 at 10:02 am

Cholo - it is interesting to note that as a community we did as you suggested and cut back on the usage of water. What did we get in return? Dramatic price increases.

If you look at the history of Zone 7 pricing, you will see that their price increases have significantly exceeded the rate of inflation for years. You wonder how that board, management, and employees feel knowing that are lowering the standard of living for their neighbors given the lack of performance of their agency.

This is what we get when a government agency is not held accountable for its actions. How many of you complaining online actually took the time to show up to the Zone 7 public meeting that discussed these rate increases? How many of you have reached out to Zone 7 to share your perspectives?

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Posted by Steve
a resident of Parkside
on Nov 7, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Cholo, maybe you haven't figured this part out yet, but their revenue is down primarily because residents in our city are using less water.....go figure. The same thing happened to EBMUD customers. Conserve and pay the penalty.

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Posted by Been There
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2011 at 9:29 pm

I agree with Lisa - Pleasanton has the worst water ever! It leaves spots all over everything - my shower doors, dishes (both dishwashers I had). they've had a long time to fix this and haven't and now they want to charge us more. I've lived in other places and Pleasanton's is the hardest water around ...and the most expensive.

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Posted by GX
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2011 at 7:30 am

Zone 7 has been slow to consolidate its chemical spend in order to save money. It still hasn't rationalized its property footprint, somewhat to increase the convenience of its employees (e.g. keeping unnecessary buildings in Pleasanton so its employees don't need to commute to Livermore). And it has had significant scope creep. All the while its basic services have increased dramatically in cost.

Its own metrics demonstrate that it is a grossly underperforming organization. But given it is a natural monopoloy, the only way it is going to change is if there is significant push-back from the community.

At a minimum the Board should be exploring the possibility of consolidating Zone 7 with other local water agencies. This is a way to save costs if water usage continues to decline.

But again, if you don't speak up nothing will change.

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Posted by H2No
a resident of Canyon Meadows
on Nov 8, 2011 at 8:21 am

I work for a commercial office property and the water rates are out of control (along with trash but I will stay focused). It is true that we conserved water and they, in turn had to raise rates. I also hear that we are picking up the tab from the failed developers in Dublin that went BK before paying for the new water infrastructure for all those new houses.

We can't remain competitive with these crazy increases in water with our other markets and it needs to stop and I think it needs to be reviewed by an outside party.

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Posted by GX
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2011 at 10:37 am

It makes common sense that the cost of government services can either promote or deter business formation. It is unfortunate that it seems the only answer from government agencies these days are to either raise fees or taxes.

I don't see any earnest efforts to right-size government agencies according to the business activities they are supporting.

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Posted by Been There
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2011 at 1:17 pm

I agree that an outside party needs to investigate the water operations and cost containment but who would that be? Anyone know?

Hopefully not another government agency :(

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Posted by Downtown Mo
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Nov 8, 2011 at 1:53 pm

It is very sad when my water bill exceeds my PG & E bill by $200.00. It is sad that it exceeds my home owners insurance and car insurance (for three cars) also. I used to complain about that being high but not anymore-water takes the award and I do not have a pool or spa, nor do I even have a lawn to water. already had the city check for leaks-no leaks just overprice water and sewage etc.

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Posted by Lee
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2011 at 6:02 pm

I saw the article about the cost of water going up..why? The quality is very hard, so not enough filtering and softening going on there. We had to get a water system put in a our dishwasher, washing machine etc. kept breaking down!!

The water and sewer bills are excessive..someone needs to work on this!

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Posted by Boris
a resident of Birdland
on Nov 8, 2011 at 11:06 pm


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Posted by Mad as Heck
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Nov 9, 2011 at 12:07 am

We never have gotten sufficient water pressure, and so all of us in the household have to flush at least three times to get everything down. With four bathrooms in the house, that adds up to a lot of flushing and high water bills. And our pool? Forget about it. Even when we refill it twice a month it still leaves spots on our bathing suits. We try to be conscientious and only water our acre and 1/2 of plants and grasses three times a week instead of four. And we've cut down from two dishwashers to one. I have to say, its gotta be the environmentalists' fault. And Obama's.

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Posted by Just Passing Through
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 9, 2011 at 1:26 am

For the 19-years we have lived in Pleasanton, the taste and quality of the water has been HORRENDOUS! The Zone 7 Water District needs to do their job and improve it, the water we're supplied with isn't fit for human consumption and continues to damage household appliances/fixtures. Any rate increase is not only ridiculous but unreasonable.

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Posted by fed up
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Just another example of our fine elected officials at work. We need to get these people off our backs and out of our pocketbooks. The water in pleasanton is and always has been horrible. We have to buy bottled water for everything. Coffee pots are worthless if you put pleasanton water in them, It tastes like crap and destroys every appliance u use it in, not to mention what it does to your clothes. Enough is enough!!!! U want to charge us up the bung for this crap u call water then give us what u are charging us for descent water or give us a rebate.

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 12, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Here's the information for the Zone 7 Board and public meetings. Web Link

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Posted by GX
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Given the recent complaints regarding the Zone 7 water rate increase, I contacted Zone 7 to gain a better understanding of their historical rate increases. To put it simply, their rate increases are out of control:

- Since 2003, Zone 7 water rate increases have grown nearly 250% faster than inflation

- This means that we are paying 60% more for water than we did in 2003 - much more than we should be

- There have been years where annual rate increases have been 8, 9 and even 16%

- The rate increase for next year will once again be much greater than the inflation rate

This is clearly a public agency that is failing its customers. Allowing this to continue erodes the standard of living for everyone in the valley.

Pleasanton Weekly, it would be great if you could investigate this story more and help to put pressure on the organization to dramatically improve. If it can't get its act together, maybe it is time to consider consolidating with another organization who has better performance.

We citizens deserve better from government agencies such as Zone 7.

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Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2011 at 11:55 am

I decided to look a bit further into the issue of the water rate increase which I‘m really not all that familiar with. I guess I’m one of the knuckleheads that have spent too many years believing that our public servants don’t need any supervision when spending our money. Sometimes I need to remind myself that taxpayers are at the top of the city’s ORG chart and that implies at least some level of responsibility in monitoring how our tax dollars are spent.

During the last council meeting Mayor Hosterman commented on the water rate increases, ZOVE 7, and DSRSD. To her credit she suggested this topic be placed on a future agenda so that the issue can be discussed with concerned taxpayers.

I stumbled across a blog called “Around Dublin” and found this excellent article: “Dublin Water Agency to Pay Top Brass Over Quarter Million in Bonuses Through Rate Increases".

That was intriguing enough but the article itself goes beyond the title. Here is an excerpt:

“The Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) has been hard at work for the past year. Unfortunately for residents and businesses in Dublin, south San Ramon, and parts of Pleasanton, the senior executives of this local water agency seem to have been spending most of their time devising schemes to wring out over a quarter million dollars in bonuses for themselves this year. The DSRSD Board of Directors approved the 2011 bonus payout by a vote of 3 to 2 …“To give out a quarter-million dollars in bonuses, I haven’t seen that,” said DSRSD Board Member Scannell. “There are other programs like this, but not to the breadth that we have done.” Board Members Scannell and Benson need the help of all ratepayers to overturn this reckless decision.

The scheme took two steps. General Manager Bert Michalczyk first got the concept of this bonus program approved last year in tandem with a series of rate increases that went into effect for everyone in 2011. The actual amount of the bonus was only made public recently, after General Manager Michalczyk secured the three votes he needed to get a nearly 10% raise…

In preparation for next year’s bonus payouts, DSRSD General Manager Michalczyk has already primed the pump for more rate increases based on the latest water rate study. In addition to inflation and Zone 7 pass-through rate hikes, hardworking residents and struggling local businesses in Dublin, south San Ramon, and parts of Pleasanton can also look forward to increases in their fixed water charges.”

I highly recommend reading the entire article: Web Link

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