Water rate objections
Your editorial in the Sept. 7 issue (“The water rate dilemma”) suggests that objecting to the water rate increase is ill-informed and unwise. I agree that there is a lack of information, but I think it is necessary – not unwise – to question some of the matters brought out in the 350-page consultant’s report on which the city’s proposal is based.
For instance, the report indicates that the cost of water obtained from the Sonoma County Water Agency “has escalated dramatically in recent years and will continue to do so for the next ten years.” That cost is increasing by an average of 10 percent per year. How is that justified?
Furthermore, many of the new infrastructure needs are due to SCWA’s abandonment of a major water expansion and distribution project, which had been in the planning stages for years. As a result, the amount of water available to Sonoma from SCWA “falls short of providing entitlements agreed to” in the current agreement, and is short of the city’s potential peak and future demands. It would seem that Sonoma and the other districts involved should be making serious representations to the county about these matters.
The report also points out that compared to the other eight “water contractors” involved, Sonoma’s cost of service is 21 percent higher than average. Only Marin Municipal and Rohnert Park have higher annual bills. And, except for Rohnert Park, which charges a much lower water usage rate, Sonoma has the highest fixed service charge.
These are just a couple of the items that should be questioned before routinely approving higher water rates for the coming five years, so the objections from customers are quite valid.