2019-2020 Surface Water Charge-Setting Process | Santa Clara Valley Water
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2019-2020 Surface Water Charge-Setting Process

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The Santa Clara Valley Water District, now known as Valley Water, will conduct its public process for setting FY 2019/2020 groundwater and surface water charges (rates) in the Spring of 2019.

As Santa Clara County’s primary water wholesaler, Valley Water strives to make sure there is enough clean, safe water to sustain the region’s economic vitality and quality of life. Water charges pay for the infrastructure and services required to deliver clean, safe drinking water to Silicon Valley residents and businesses.

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The rate-setting process includes a series of opportunities for the public to provide input at an open house and public hearings in April. The details of these meetings are listed in the Important Dates section on page 4 of the notice. The rate-setting process also includes a formal protest procedure by which well owners, operators, and owners of land upon which a well is located can object to the proposed increase in rates. That procedure is explained in detail here.

As you are aware, what you pay Valley Water to divert surface water for your use is comprised of a basic user charge, which is equivalent to the groundwater production charge, and a surface water master charge. The basic user charge helps pay for the cost to manage and augment surface water supplies and is set equal to the groundwater production charge because surface water is considered in-lieu groundwater usage. The surface water master charge pays for costs that are specific to surface water users only, including the work to operate surface water turnouts, and maintain information on surface water accounts.

Due to the severity of the historic drought of 2012 to 2016, Valley Water suspended almost all raw surface water deliveries in 2014. Now that the historic drought is over, Valley Water has restored surface water service to existing permit holders who requested it. Current Board policy does not permit new surface water connections. Please keep in mind that drought conditions could return at any time. Valley Water's Board of Directors continues to remind everyone to make conservation a way of life.

To prepare for the next drought, we must invest in large infrastructure projects. Of critical importance to water supply reliability and public safety are the seismic retrofits and upgrades at several dams, most notably Anderson Dam. Until Anderson Dam is restored, Valley Water must operate the largest reservoir in the county at a fraction of its storage capacity due to state-imposed restrictions. The upgrade of Rinconada Water Treatment Plant is more than half complete, and will extend the plant's service life for the next 50 years and increase its capacity by 25%. The Pacheco Reservoir Expansion is an excellent opportunity for Valley Water to increase the reliability of future water supplies through additional storage capacity. Valley Water received $485 million in grant funding from the state last summer for this important project, and continues to seek outside funding to help offset costs.

Finally, critical imported water deliveries are expected to decline in the future without the California WaterFix. The state’s proposed plan will improve the infrastructure that is to provide roughly 40% of the county’s water supply. Valley Water is conscientious about the rising cost of water. A concerted effort has been made to reduce the groundwater charge projection by contemplating several water supply investment scenarios in accordance with the Water Supply Master Plan (WSMP), and selecting a path forward that will help ensure future water supply reliability at the lowest cost.