LA council weighs water rate increase proposal

The Los Altos City Council is scheduled 7 p.m. tonight to discuss a proposal by the Santa Clara Valley Water District to raise rates by as much as 57 percent over the next five years in the county's northern region, which includes Mountain View and Los Altos. If approved, next year's water could cost $569 per acre-foot, up from the current $520. An acre-foot is 66' by 660' and one foot high.


A staff report prepared by Los Altos Councilwoman Val Carpenter, paraphrasing water district officials states, "The recommended North County increase to $569/AF 'is driven by the need to offset revenue shortfalls due to reduced water usage beyond what was anticipated.'"

"This makes no sense," Carpenter wrote in a letter to water district officials. "Reductions in water usage should be rewarded, not punished."

The Santa Clara Valley Water District wholesales to local retailers, including California Water Services Company, which sell to residents.

The Los Altos staff report indicates the water district has proposed raising rates in the south county, which includes Gilroy, Silver Creek and Morgan Hill, by 18 percent over five years to $325 from $275.

Despite above-average rainfall and lush reservoirs in recent months, other local water agencies as well, including the non-profit Purissima Hills Water District in Los Altos Hills, have raised rates. Officials cited both conservation efforts that decreased revenue as well as upstream projects to improve flow. Purissima Hills uses a tiered rate structure that penalizes high-end users to encourage conservation.

Purissima Hills gets its water from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir in Yosemite via the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Public comments are welcome, but must be registered prior to April 26. Los Altos City Hall is located at 1 N. San Antonio Road, Los Altos. Click here for the full agenda item.

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