Water and Wastewater Rates
Water and Wastewater Rates 2014
Ventura's vital water and wastewater services are completely self-supporting through revenues generated by rates paid by our customers. Reliable, clean water is delivered around the clock for daily activities such as bathing, cooking, and outdoor watering. Equally important, water sent down the drains of our homes and businesses is collected and cleaned to protect our health and the health of the environment.
But, did you know that your money also funds a wide range of other less visible expenses? Long-term debt payments, planning, environmental compliance, and capital projects including replacement of old pipes and associated facilities are all provided by Ventura Water and paid through our rates.
The 2013-14 Ventura Water Rate Advisory Committee offered their recommendations to City Council on January 13, 2014 following a six-month process to update a 10-year financial plan for the Water and Wastewater utilities. The 2014 Cost of Service Study was presented to the City Council on February 3, 2013 and recommends a four-year rate plan. The City Council held a Public Hearing on May 5, 2014 and approved the new rates which will be increased on July 1, 2014, July 1, 2015, July 1, 2016 and July 1, 2017.
This will help Ventura Water prepare for the future and keep rates steady. In noticing for four year rates, customers can also plan ahead and take proactive steps to monitor their water use and charges. Going forward, Ventura Water will annually report our financial status to the City Council and the community, which will allow an opportunity to hold rates or lower them, if deemed prudent. In addition, City Council recently approved a customer assistance program, as recommended by the Ventura Water Rate Advisory Committee, to help low-income customers, which is tentatively expected to be implemented by January 2015.
2014 VENTURA COST OF SERVICE STUDY REPORT (pdf 3388KB)
For the most accurate estimate, residential customers should use the water usage information from bills received from February through May to help determine your average winter water use for next July. Customers are encouraged to sign up for My Ventura Water, our 24/7 online web service, to access their billing and water usage information. For assistance using the Bill Calculator, please contact Customer Care at firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 667-6500 during normal business hours.
An update to the Municipal Code, approved by City Council in May 2014, directs that the new rates will be used to calculate all charges shown on bills prepared after the effective dates, without proration. This calculation methodology will aid customer understanding of their water use (and charges) and clarify the billing process.
In early March, every Ventura Water customer and property owner received, in the mail, a notice about the proposed four year rates and the reasons for them as well as information about how to participate in the City Council's Public Hearing about the rates on May 5, 2014. In addition, nearly 20 customers attended a special Town Hall informational meeting on Thursday, April 17 at 6 pm at the City Maintenance Yard, 336 Sanjon Road.
Under California law, customers may oppose rate increases but they must do so in writing prior to the close of the Public Hearing. Both the owner of the parcel and the person receiving the service for which the fee is charged may submit a written protest, but only one protest per parcel will be counted as provided by Government Code Section 53755(b) (Proposition 218).
Written protests are due to the City Clerk’s Office at P.O. Box 99, 501 Poli Street (Room 204), Ventura, California 93002-0099 prior to the conclusion of the Public Hearing on May 5, 2014 either by personal delivery or by mail. No late postmarks will not be accepted and emailed, faxed or photocopied protests will not be counted.
A written protest will not be considered valid if it does not include all of the following: (1) A statement that you protest the increase in charge(s), (2) Name of the record owner or customer of record who is submitting the protest, (3) Identification by street address or utility account number of the parcel with respect to which the protest is made and (4) original signature and legibly printed name of the record owner or customer of record who is submitting the protest. A rate protest form, which outlines all the needed information to be a valid vote, can be printed below or is available at the City Clerk's office or customers may submit their own protest vote that meets the requirements. Resolution No. 2012-017 adopted by the Council on February 27, 2012 details the City's guidelines for submission and tabulation of protests in connection with rate hearings conducted pursuant to Article XIIID, Section 6 of the California Constitution (Proposition 218).
2014 PROPOSED RATES NOTICE (English) (pdf 430KB)
While the proposed rates will support modest increases for the utilities' operations and maintenance budgets, the primary reason for the continued increases is Ventura's growing need to replace aging water and wastewater pipelines and facilities. Ventura has thrived through the investment made by our community two generations ago to build reliable water and wastewater systems. It is our turn to renew these vital community lifelines. Over the next two decades, many of our 380 miles of water and 300 miles of wastewater mainlines will reach the end of their lifecycle. Today the water mains made of cast iron which comprise 25% of our drinking water distribution system are failing. Higher rates are never easy to pay but your money will be invested in Ventura to protect our economy and quality of life.
The proposed rates, as recommended by the Ventura Water Rate Advisory Committee, will fund 75% of the $136 million capital improvement plan through fiscal year 2018. This keeps rates lower because completing all the planned projects within the four years in unlikely due to shifting priorities, project scope changes and other unforeseen factors in the design and construction process.
In order to lessen the burden on future generations through legacy loan payments, the rates also reflect a 50/50 capital program funding plan, as recommended by the Advisory Committee - 50% will be paid through bonds (loans similar to mortgage payments) and 50% will be paid by today's cash. This strategy equally shares the financial investment and the benefits of a healthly infrastructure between current and future customers.
City of Ventura Pension Facts (pdf 54KB)
Other Rate Impact Factors
Pass Through Charges
On July 16, 2012, the City Council approved changes to the Municipal Code that allows specific third party costs to be passed through directly to customers, if they are higher than the adopted budgeted costs. At this time, wholesale and pumping water charges are fluctuating for a variety of reasons, including drought conditions. Rather than budgeting these costs at a higher range (and increasing rates now), the pass through mechanism may be used to fund these costs at a later date. If this becomes necessary, additional outreach will be conducted and customers will receive at least a 30-day notice before rates are increased.
In response to historic dry conditions, customers were requested in February 2014 to voluntarily reduce their water use by at least 10%. Since the proposed rates are based on the amount of water projected to be sold and the amount of wastewater to be cleaned, using less water will decrease revenues. If the drought persists, Ventura Water will return to the City Council this summer with an action plan that may include penalties for excessive water use. Ventura Water's financial status will be closely monitored to ensure that we are able to meet our financial obligations and maintain and operate our systems reliably.
Residential Wastewater Winter Averaging
To more accurately estimate the water volume per account sent to the Water Reclamation Facility for cleaning, a winter averaging methodology is used to calculate the flow charge for residential wastewater customers. The flow charge component of the wastewater charge is based on the average water usage during two full billing periods for bills received February through May. Since our billing system is based on an eight-week cycle, the usage periods will vary based on your meter reading bill cycle. To help customers identify their cycle, all bills now include the cycle number directly under the account number on the upper right-hand corner of the bill. The 2013-14 Winter Average Cycles Chart defines the two cycles that will be used to set the wastewater charge starting July 1, 2014.
For example, a residential customer in the College Area (Billing Cycle 5):
Winter Bill #1 January 6 - March 3, 2014 water usage = 15 HCF
(bill received by customer around March 12)
WInter Bill #2 March 4 - May 4, 2014 = 17 HCF
(bill received by customer around May 14)
15 HCF (Bill #1) + 17 HCF (Bill #2) = 32 HCF divided by 2 = 16 HCF Winter Flow Average
Since the total wastewater charge is the sum of (1) a fixed charge, (2) a winter average flow charge and (3) an Estuary Protection charge, the sample customer bi-monthly bill starting on July 1, 2014 with the proposed rates would be:
(1) Fixed Charge = $19.96
(2) Winter Average Flow Charge = 16 HCF x $2.91 = $46.56
(3) Estuary Protection Charge (6% of bill) = $3.99
Total Bi-Monthly Bill from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 = $70.51
In recognition that most higher water consumers in the winter months are using water for outdoor use, which is not returned to the wastewater system for cleaning, the winter flow/commodity charge is capped at 30 HCF (hundred cubic feet = 748 gallons= 15 full bathtubs) for single family customers and 24 HCF for multi-family customers.
Since the amount of water used during the winter averaging time period will set the following year's wastewater charge, wise water use can help save you money. If you have any questions or need help determining your wastewater charge, please call Customer Care at (805) 667-6500.
Our community is dedicated to protecting our environment and using our resources wisely. As a result of legal actions, the City has agreed to collaborate with stakeholders to develop a long-term water reuse program for the wastewater cleaned by the Ventura Water Reclamation Facility that is currently released into the Santa Clara River Estuary. The cost of the program will be set through a planning process over the next three years or so, but by the terms of the agreement, is capped at $55 million at today's dollars. In 2012, the Advisory Committee evaluated financial options to fund the program and recommended a separate charge to fund this program. Customers are encouraged to watch a video and read more information about the agreement as key participants in the next steps. Please attend upcoming stakeholder meetings for the Santa Clara River Estuary Special Studies to learn more about this important process as the future of the water reuse program is planned.