Letters to the Editor

Viewpoint: A little background on Grover Beach water

As we all know, water is a precious commodity, and for those of us living or working in Grover Beach the costs for providing water are going up.

On Monday the City Council will conduct a public hearing to entertain protests or comments regarding staff-recommended adjustments to water rates to cover the cost of producing water. In an effort to inform the ratepayer about water costs and the need for the adjustments, I would like to provide you with a little background:

Working with the city’s water partners, the cities of Arroyo Grande and Pismo Beach and the Oceano Community Services District, Grover Beach is allocated approximately 2,227 acre-feet of water per year. An acre foot is enough water to serve 2.5 single family residents annually.

Approximately 1,427 acre-feet, or 64 percent, of this allocation is pumped from the water basin that lies beneath our communities. The remainder of the allocation, 800 acre-feet or 36 percent of the total, is made available from water stored at the Lopez Lake reservoir. Grover Beach is currently using 91 percent of our total allocation, and although the city continues to look for alternative sources of water, no reliable alternative source is readily available.

Lopez Lake and its water management, treatment and production facilities are owned and operated by the County of San Luis Obispo. All of the costs associated with the production of water are paid for proportionately by the contracted users of the water, including Grover Beach.

In 2006-07, the county was required by state and federal mandates to upgrade the treatment plant. The cost of these upgrades was $26 million. The city is required to pay for its share of upgrades and operational costs associated with the new plant.

In just a few years, the city’s cost for water received from Lopez Lake has risen dramatically. In fiscal year 2007 to 2008, these costs went from $755,932 to an estimated $1,207,200 in fiscal year 2010 to 2011. In three short years, these costs have risen approximately 60 percent.

The increase in the county’s costs to Grover Beach is the primary reason we are seeking the City Council’s authorization to increase water rates at this time. The recommended rate adjustments, if approved, will increase the consumer’s bill between 25 percent and 40 percent every two months. The actual amount of the increase will depend on the volume of use and the size of the meter providing the use.

For example, an average single-family customer with a three-quarter-inch meter consuming 22 units of water in a two-month period would see the bi-monthly water portion of the bill increase from $65.30 to $82.50, a $17.20 increase.

A residential customer with a 1-inch meter would have an increase from $65.30 to $94.00, an increase of $28.70 in the water portion of the bi-monthly bill. A typical commercial customer using 12 units of water with a 1-inch meter can expect to see the water portion of the bi-monthly bill increase from $69.42 to $122.70, an increase of $53.28.

The city of Grover Beach operates its water utility as an enterprise fund, which means all revenues collected for water sales are used to cover expenditures associated with water production only and can be used for no other purpose.

The city continues to offer quality water at a very comparable rate when evaluated with other water utilities. For further information, please contact the Grover Beach City Management office at 473-4567.

Bob Perrault is the city manager for Grover Beach.