Antelope Valley Press
AVEK approves 2.4% water rate increase for 2011
AVEK: Water districts, farmers impacted by rate
By ALISHA SEMCHUCK
Valley Press Staff Writer
PALMDALE - Water districts, farmers and others who purchase water from the Antelope ValleyEast Kern- Water Agency will pay slightly more when the new year rolls in.
AVEK directors, in a 7-0 vote Tuesday night, approved a water rate hike of 2.4%0. Their action followed a public hearing on the issue in compliance with Proposition 218, which requires property owners within a land-related utility's property tax boundaries to receive notice of a proposed rate increase. The new rate takes effect Jan. 1.
"We had a committee that worked on that," Board President George Lane said regarding the new rate.
Director Carl Hunter, the Water Rates Committee chairman, said the committee recommended the 2.4% increase based on the Consumer Price Index.
"It's across the board, exceptfor the water banking rate," Hunter said.
"Make sure LA . County knows it's 2.4%, so when they set a 13% increase, they don't say it's because of AVEK" Director Dave Rizzo said. Some customers of Los Angeles County Waterworks Districts claimed the county raised its rates to pass on increased costs.
Based on the new rates, first-priority treated water will cost $304 an acre-foot in the winter season and $374 an acre-foot during the summer, season, when consumption peas.
An acre-foot is equivalent to 325,851 gallons, the amount of water used in the average singlefamily home in a year.
Untreated water for first-priority customers will cost $241 an acre-foot. Rates for second-priority customers will increase to $253 an acre-foot for treated water and $169 per acre-foot for untreated water, based on the new price schedule.
First-priority customers are those who pay higher prices in order to guarantee they will receive the water they ordered. Second-priority customers only receive water when supplies are available, so their costs are less but their risk is greater, particularly in years when the region faces a drought.
The above rates apply to municipal and industrial customers with water service agreements.
AVEK's list of municipal users include Los Angeles County Waterworks Districts 40 and 37, Quartz Hill Water District, Palm Ranch Irrigation District and Rosamond Community Services District, as well as various mutual water companies within the Valley.
The cost for treatment and delivery of the Palmdale Water District's allocation is $368 an acre-foot. Mojave Water Agency's allocation is $816 an acre-foot. Municipal and industrial water delivered to the main base at Edwards Air Force Base is $746 an acre-foot.
First-priority. agricultural users who purchase untreated water from the California Aqueduct that gets delivered through customerowned facilities will pay $115.50 an acre-foot for an availability charge and $231 an acre-foot for a delivery charge.
First-priority agricultural users who purchase treated water delivered through AVEK-owned facilities will pay $94.40 for an availability charge and $334 for a delivery charge. If they take untreated water delivered through AVEK-owned facilities, the delivery charge is $236 an acre-foot.
Different rates are set for second-priority agricultural users, and they may check their water service agreements against the new price schedule to determine their costs.
The delivery cost of untreated water to be stored in an Antelope Valley groundwater bank "for use within Antelope Valley boundaries by direct or indirect - in-lieu - recharge" is $206 an acre-foot.
The delivery cost for treated water to be stored in an Antelope Valley water bank is $274 an acrefoot.
Dave Rydman, a civil engineer with Los Angeles County's Department of Public Works, asked board members to consider changing the rate structure to "move away from first-priority and second-priority" pricing.
"It's almost a game of delivering water," Rydman said. "It would be more helpful to have a fixed allocation." He said that would help the county Waterworks Districts with their planning efforts, giving all the retail water supply agencies that work with AVEK "a better idea for planning."
Rydman also asked the board to reconsider the water banking rate.
"It presents a hardship for retail agencies," Rydman said. "We don't have a revenue stream for water banking."
He recommended meeting with the AVEK board in committee for further discussion on the matter.
Lane told Rydman to send AVEK a letter with his suggestions.
"We're not going to resolve those tonight," Lane said.
Board Vice President Keith Dyas asked AVEK General Manager Dan Flory whether the consumer price index this year indicated what the California Department of Water Resources was charging the state water contractors for supplies drawn. from the State Water Project.
"DWR sends out an estimate of bills six months-in advance," Flory said. "So we kind of have a sense of what (the State Water Project) will charge."