Claremont Insider: Water Rate Pain

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Water Rate Pain

Yesterday's Claremont Courier carried a small ad announcing a "Resident's Meeting [sic]" 6pm tomorrow at Apex Imaging Services, located at 720 Indigo Ct. in Pomona. The ad's title said, "CLAREMONTERS AGAINST OUTRAGEOUS WATER RATES! Golden State Water STOP RIPPING US OFF!!!"

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The ad was apparently placed by Hal Hargrave, who recently had a letter to the Courier complaining of our water rates. It also pointed readers to the group's Facebook page.

Residents planning on attending tomorrow's meeting are asked to bring a copy of their latest water bill. The meeting's goal is to "set a plan of action to fight Golden State Water."

A noble goal indeed, and one we support. Golden State Water and its parent company, American States Water Co., certainly do a great job of playing the Public Utility Commission rate game by, every three or so years, asking for huge rate increases to cover infrastructure repairs that we're not sure are ever completed. (Did they ever get around to upgrading the water tank up by Claraboya after the water presure failed during the 2003 Grand Prix Fire?)

The PUC, in all its wisdom, shows how fair its judgment is by chopping down the rate increases into digestible chunks - 20%, say, over three years.

Incidentally, Golden State is playing the same game elsewhere in Southern California: Ojai, Orange County, and the high desert.

Of course, thanks to regionalized water rates, Claremont's rate hikes are tied to the Bartow-Victorville area. As we've written in the past, Claremont's water rates got lumped together with Barstow's back in 1998 when the water company (then known as Southern California Water Co.) asked for the rates to be regionalized.  Then-City Manager Glenn Southard claimed to have worked out a great deal for the City, getting discounted rates for municipal water use, along with SCWC leasing the City's rights to 535 acre-feet of ground water per year.   In return, the City signed off on SCWC's regionalization request.

Ironically, in the current fight against rising water rates, the ratepayers' best friend may just be the City of Claremont and other affected municipalities, whose city attorneys will be needed to make a coordinated fight against Golden State Water, whose main goal has always seemed to be to ensure a steady dividend stream to its stockholders, who in turn reward GSW execs with huge salaries and bonuses.