The rate increase proposed for SLV Water District customers is not only justified; it is necessary. Concern for low-income residents is shared not only by those opposed to the increase, but also by every SLV Water District Board Member, and every employee. They have been diligent and careful in their evaluation of the district’s needs for long-term efficiency, centralizing district operations, dealing with the threat of long-term drought years and possible emergencies, and maintaining a quality supply of water in sufficient quantity to meet our current and future needs.
Contrary to opponents’ statements, the district is not spend-thrift. District staff is knowledgeable and their skills state-of-the-art; they understand the strengths and weaknesses in the system, the requirements imposed by various County, State and Federal agencies, and what improvements are needed, where.
Our board members are remarkable in their dedication and depth of understanding of district operations. Three of them have served on the board for 15 years or more and all have reputations for intelligent decision-making. This decision was not lightly made.
Why centralize administration and operations onto one site? This need was recognized almost twenty years ago. Both buildings in downtown Boulder Creek are very old, difficult to heat and maintain, and one is seismically unsound and not ADA compliant. In addition, the equipment storage area at Quail Hollow and Zayante roads is being taken back by the county to enable major bridge improvements; trucks and equipment are spread in different areas, vulnerable to vandalism, making operations less efficient and emergency response slower. When the Prosser property on Highway 9 came on the market in 2005, it provided an excellent opportunity to consolidate operations. Inevitably, some issues and costs for the site were unforeseen, but with extensive preliminary work in place, it can quickly become a Leed-certified, earthquake safe facility with secure storage, improved equipment maintenance, and an excellent public meeting space. Maintenance costs and energy use will be significantly reduced from the many current sites.
Why invest in capital improvements? The carefully researched 2010 Strategic Plan demonstrated that hundreds of leaks are wasting water resources continuously, and it is taking too long to repair and replace them. Seventy year-old pipes and aging tanks need replacing and other upgrades are overdue. Upgrades will improve water quality, reducing on-going treatment costs.
Why include matching funds to receive State funds for the emergency intertie system? Those funds are required in one lump sum, and will thus come from Reserves – the increase allows the district to restore those reserve funds more rapidly. The intertie will upgrade important systems, enabling neighboring districts to provide water to us if an emergency (earthquake, flood, extreme freeze) prevents our district from doing so, and vice versa.
Why will the schools benefit in spite of the increase? They will benefit from the flat rate system of the new tier structure; this flat rate, while an increase, provides long-term stability for financial planning, a real boon.
How do our rates compare to neighboring water districts? Now at the bottom, our rates will be still be in the middle range compared to neighboring districts.
Why doesn’t the district provide rate alternatives for lower income residents? Turns out it is against state law! The only way to establish water rates is based on providing water, so the district cannot make allowances based on income as PG&E can do.
It is significant that the proposed rate increase will make key necessary improvements to administrative and operating functions, improve water supply quantity and quality, and help insure that supply during extreme emergencies. The funds are for specific, well-defined needs.
On the district website, there is now a great fact sheet that explains where our water comes from and how it gets to us — and why the increase is necessary and not optional or reckless. There are many more details on the website, so you too will feel better about budgeting to afford the rate increase. www.slvwd.com
Let the district know you support their dedication to provide quality water, and support the rate increase.
- Nancy B. Macy is a Boulder Creek resident