Santa Clara Valley Water Officials Unanimously Endorse 9.1% Rate Hike – NBC Bay Region
Water prices in Santa Clara County are rising as the county faces looming drought threats.
Tuesday the Santa Clara Valley Aquatic District the board of directors unanimously approved a rate increase of 9.1% for fiscal year 2022.
From July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, the average county resident will pay an additional $ 4.30 to $ 4.82 per month on their water bill.
Board chairman Tony Estremera said the increases will help pay for additional emergency water needed to meet resident demand and keep groundwater at healthy levels.
“It will also enable our community to prepare for droughts and other natural disasters by strengthening our water conservation programs, expanding the use of recycled water and starting work on the seismic dam renovation project. Anderson, who will protect public safety and increase the county’s water storage capacity, ”Estremera said.
The tariff increase will also be used to fund an environmental impact report for the $ 2.5 billion Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project – an aspect that has met opposition from San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and of the Sierra Club environmental group.
The expansion project would increase the operational capacity of the reservoir from 5,500 acre-feet to up to 140,000 acre-feet, allowing the county to store more of its water locally.
Currently, the county buys 50% of its water supply, and much of it is stored in more remote water banks.
The water passes through dikes and pipes to reach the county, but in the event of a severe drought, Vice President Gary Kremen said the county may not be able to access this water.
“It’s kind of like a bank account, where when you need it you can’t take it out, which is a shame it doesn’t work in extremely dry years,” Kremen said.
But for Liccardo, spending $ 2.5 billion on a project that wouldn’t increase water supply is not a smart investment.
Last week, Liccardo urged the council to look into other projects to conserve or increase water supplies to fund instead.
At Tuesday’s meeting, resident Greg Stein asked council members why they weren’t considering such projects instead of the reservoir expansion.
Kremen responded that the board is looking at all options.
“[That’s why] we have to come up with this environmental impact report before making our decisions, because the environmental impact report has alternatives, ”Kremen said.
The cost of the environmental impact report is around 28 cents per month for the average household, Estremera said.
Even without the proposed Pacheco reservoir expansion project, water tariffs would rise another 8.5% to fund additional water purchases, the Anderson Dam Seismic Modernization Project, and other conservation and sustainability programs.
At the meeting, council also voted in favor of developing a one-year water tariff assistance program for low-income residences that will help low-income households in the county pay. their water bills during the pandemic.