Water rate increases 20 percent lower than original forecast in recognition of pandemic’s economic impact
OAKLAND – The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) Board of Directors adopted a two-year, $2.25 billion budget that will pay for critical improvements to the water and wastewater systems essential to supporting the community and protecting public health not just during the COVID-19 pandemic but every day. The Board voted 7-0 to approve the water and wastewater rates.
Water and wastewater rates will increase 4 percent each in the first year, starting July 1, 2021, and an additional 4 percent each in the second year, starting July 1, 2022.
“We have carefully threaded the needle to meet the challenges facing our customers and our needs to invest in our critical infrastructure,” said Board President Doug Linney. “Today, we adopted water rates that are lower than previously projected and wastewater rates that were on target, while advancing upgrades to respond to aging infrastructure and climate change.”
The effect on individual bills depends on water use. An average household using 200 gallons daily will see a $2.53 increase per month starting July 2021, and an additional increase of $2.66 per month the following year. A low water user (100 gallons daily) would see a $1.79 increase per month for the first year and an additional $1.88 per month starting July 2022. The bill for a high water user (600 gallons daily) will go up $6.85 per month the first year and an additional $7.14 starting July 2022.
For residents in EBMUD’s wastewater service area, the increase for the average homeowner will be 89 cents per month starting July 1, 2021, and an additional 98 cents starting July 1, 2022.
The wastewater Wet Weather Facilities Charge, collected on the property tax bill for parcels that are connected to the wastewater collection system in our wastewater service area, is based on lot size. This charge will increase by 4 percent each year. For the typical single-family residential lot size, 5,000 square-feet and under, the annual increase will be $4.64 in FY22 and an additional $4.82 in FY23.
EBMUD evaluated all capital projects and shifted priorities to address the most essential infrastructure. In the next two years, this budget funds about $800 million of capital improvements, such as:
- Over $115 million to replace aging water pipelines
- Over $110 million for water treatment plant improvements to improve resiliency and address climate impacts
- Over $45 million to replace large water transmission pipes
- Over $57 million for improvements to the Wastewater Treatment Plant in West Oakland and sewer interceptors and pump stations
EBMUD’s system – parts of which date to the late 1800s – requires ongoing maintenance and renewal. From the Sierra Nevada foothills to San Francisco Bay, EBMUD operates aqueducts that span 90 miles, a network of 4,200 miles of pipelines, five local reservoirs, six water treatment plants, 164 water storage facilities and a wastewater treatment plant. Just as important as its infrastructure are EBMUD’s 2,000 essential workers who deliver high quality drinking water and ensure that EBMUD continues to protect the Mokelumne River watershed – our primary water source – and San Francisco Bay.
“Our budget and rates are designed to ensure services remain resilient regardless of the situation we face, from the pandemic and Public Safety Power Shutoffs to earthquakes, droughts, fires, and economic crises,” said General Manager Clifford Chan. “Our customers count on us to fulfill our promise to them and respond to these challenges.”
Two years ago, EBMUD forecasted water rate increases of 5 percent; but after evaluating the progress made on infrastructure in recent years, combined with the economic challenges faced by many during the pandemic, EBMUD proposed and adopted water service rates 20 percent lower than projected.
In accordance with California’s Proposition 218, EBMUD may only recoup the costs to operate and maintain our system and ensure it is stable for the future. The District, a not-for-profit agency, follows Proposition 218 guidelines for rate setting and public hearings, conducts cost of service studies, and is independently audited annually. As a result, EBMUD has one of the highest bond ratings for any water or wastewater agency in the country, which saves ratepayer dollars by reducing financing costs.
“To meet this particular moment in our history, this budget requires a cautious, careful and flexible approach to ensure the East Bay’s water and wastewater needs,” said Director of Finance Sophia Skoda. “With our eyes squarely on investing in essential operations and critical infrastructure, we have a fiscally responsible plan to keep the East Bay connected, healthy, and thriving.”
Services to help
EBMUD recognizes the Bay Area’s high cost of living and offers one of the most generous customer assistance programs in the state. Our Customer Assistance Program provides discounts to qualified customers. For information, visit: ebmud.com/CAP. For budget and rates information, visit ebmud.com/rates.
The East Bay Municipal Utility District has a proud history of providing high-quality drinking water for 1.4 million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. EBMUD’s wastewater system serves 740,000 customers and helps protect the ecosystem of San Francisco Bay. EBMUD is a not-for-profit public agency established in 1923.