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Santa Clarita Water proposes rate increase spread over four years

Costs would go up about $2 a year, district officials say

Posted: August 1, 2013 7:08 p.m.
Updated: August 1, 2013 7:08 p.m.

The Santa Clarita Water Division, one of four local water retailers, wants to raise its rates to pay for increased costs of providing water, says the head of the company.

“Our experience has shown us that when the power goes out people light candles or get out their flashlights; (when) cable goes out, throw in a DVD. But when the water goes out — it can get a little hairy,” said Mauricio E. Guardado Jr., retail manager for Santa Clarita Water, a retail division of the Castaic Lake Water Agency.

If the proposed increase is approved next month by the water retailer’s parent company, water rates would rise in January.

If approved, rates for a typical family household would increase by a couple of dollars every year for the next four years.

A household now paying a water bill of $50.99 every month would pay $52.78 beginning next year, $54.63 in 2015, $56.54 in 2016 and $58.52 in 2017.

Guardado says the extra money is needed to recover the company’s costs of buying water from the state and paying for materials and supplies, power and labor.

It’s also needed to keep the company from deficit spending and depleting its reserves, the water retailer said.

“Feedback from our customers convey great expectations to deliver high-quality, uninterrupted water service while ensuring public safety and emergency preparedness, all at a reasonable cost — and rightly so,” Guardado said in a prepared statement sent to The Signal Thursday.

“We successfully accomplish this through solid financial planning, operational planning and comprehensive water master planning,” he said.

The rates will be considered by the Castaic Lake Water Agency at a public meeting Sept. 25.

The retailer maintains more than 330 miles of pipeline with about 29,000 service connections, 28 pump stations and 48 water storage tanks. It manages 76 million gallons of water at any given time and 14 groundwater production wells within a 55-square-mile service area.

Its customers, according to Guardado, have been spared rate increases through careful debt management.

“We have fortunately been able to suppress rate increases through innovation and sound business practices such as significant cost savings by positioning ourselves to restructure existing debt and benefit from proactive energy efficient measures,” he said.

Santa Clarita Water Division customers are invited to review a financial plan prepared by the retailer at its administrative office at 26521 Summit Circle in Valencia.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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