Posted by: wateruser | April 30, 2009

Ukiah Millview water district (MCWD) proposes rate changes

The Millview County water district (CWD) in Ukiah, CA has proposed changes to water rates, effective June 2009.

This blog is to ask some questions about these changes, and also to get your opinions.

Disclaimer: This blog and its author are not part of MCWD, and do not represent the district an any way. We are customers of the district, and we provide this page as a public service to families, industries, and other users of the district.

Quick summary:

Here is a quick summary of the changes as they effect water customers:

  • Double the water rates for an “average family” from $344 per year to $681 per year by 2011.
  • That’s a 98% increase!
  • Add more than $14 million dollars of new projects, with millions of dollars of debt to fund it.

As customers of this district, we need to challenge these increases, especially during a time of economic hardship for our area.

It would be reasonable to suggest an increase of 20%. Maybe even 30%, but they want to increase charges by 98%!

Why the changes?

Why do they want to up the water rates? We need to ask some serious questions:

  • They want to purchase more water rights. ($4M) Seems reasonable, but the question is, who are they purchasing it from? MCWD has been around a long time, don’t they already own the rights to the water? Why are they paying excessive prices for these new rights? ($1447 per acre foot)
  • They want to add expensive new equipment. ($2-3M) Right now the economy is contracting. Is this the best time for such expansion?
  • They want to automate the meter reading. ($400,000) Why? Is that really necessary right now? Are they planning to fire someone?
  • They hired costly consultants, who will be costing about $500,ooo over the next couple years. That’s a lot of cash for a small district, and can’t the MCWD do this work itself? Isn’t that why they have a staff?
  • Increased administration costs of 40%. Why?
  • They want to make other capital improvements ($5M), such as move some tanks around, build some roads, update equipment. But, what are the priorities? Does it all need to happen right now?

This is the same pattern we see in the local county and state governments. Hire expensive consultants, who take over and drive costs way up, and put all of us consumers in greater debt.

What can you do about it?

A public meeting will be held on Weds, May 6, 2009 at Mendocino College, room 5380 (in the CPVA building located at 1000 Hensley Creek Road, Ukiah.)

This is the time to state your opinion regarding these water rate changes. The more the better.

If you cannot make it, you can send a letter to the district directly stating your opinion.

If you’re concerned, please post a comment.

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Responses

  1. yep, business-as-usual, hose the lowly consumer. Feds are doing it, state and county doing it, so why not hit us again, poke us right in the eye again. When will it end, when we are flat broke?

  2. Be sure to attend the meeting and ask serious questions!

  3. You should point out that the letter Millview sent to water customers is misleading. In the table of rates, it shows June 09, but not THE CURRENT RATES. So anyone reading it quickly WILL NOT SEE THAT THE RATES ARE INCREASED BY A LOT. It is almost dishonest the way they did it.

  4. Instead of installing the automated meter reading, why don’t you read meters and bill quarterly. This would reduce meter reading cost and account billing as well as postage.

    A pay raise? Where are you living. Join the rest of us working folks and forego your raise like the rest of us. Be lucky you have a job.
    But I guess if you are raising rates 98%, a 40% raise is fair. Let me know when you go to fill up your gas tank so I can raise my rate 98% just for you.

    Let’s build more house’s and busines’s on the Masonite site. More water use equals more $ for you.

  5. You all may want to find out the real facts before getting excited about the fees being raised. This is a fairly small water district we are talking about. And just like we need to survive during economic hardships, so do they. If they really are purchasing more water rights, which I doubt since their arent any available, then that could only benefit the consumer who is looking at serious water rations as a result of the current drought issue. Droughts mean economic hardships for water providers and they must stay afloat throught their lack of water to sell. Before you badmouth, be smart and look at all the facts before you.

    • We have the facts, but it sounds like you don’t. We spent several hours and did a full analysis of the water district’s plans and issues as provided in their reports and those of their consultants.

      What we are talking about here is bad planning and management. MVCWD has no master plan – they are flying by the seat of their pants. The district has put itself into crisis on its own and is now employing fear-mongering with the current drought situation to try to bully-in these steep rate increases.

      If you had studied the facts yourself, you would know that a large percentage of the planned outlay is for acquisition of prior leased water rights (to which they have the right of first refusal). When asked at last night’s hearing why the district couldn’t renew these leases rather than purchase them, they had no answer.

      Also, there are many additional costs that the district could easily defer to better times. For example, they want to add automated meter reading at a high cost, but admit that this won’t reduce their labor costs. This expense could easily be deferred.

      If you obtain a copy of the district’s reports and spreadsheets, you will find increases nearly across the board… during these economic times when most private businesses are scaling back their expansion plans. It doesn’t make sense.

  6. We have noticed, nearly every day, that one of our neighbors, 1330 Carrigan Lane, over waters their front landscaping to the extent that valuable water runs across the sidewalk and down the storm drain. As they have this property as a rental, the owners maybe unaware of the waste.

  7. I can agree with improvements & rate increases but, what they are asking for is completely outrageous during this economic down fall. Being a disabled and concerned user, I checked my meter & found a small long standing leak which I repaired. Under their new rate policy, my summer bill went from $12.29 last month to $50.54 this month. My usual winter bill is $6. That is a wopping increase. I can’t imagine the cost if I had a wife & kids. It’s just too much at the wrong time.


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