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2020-21 Proposed Water Charges


As the county's primary water wholesaler, Valley Water makes sure there is enough clean, safe water for homes and businesses. To finance this monumental task, Valley Water collects revenue, primarily from property taxes, well owners, agricultural water customers and water retailers, such as San Jose Water Company.

Most county residents do not pay a bill directly to the Santa Clara Valley Water District, instead they pay their local water retailers. The cost local residents pay the retailers, however, is affected by the cost to Valley Water of supplying that water.

Valley Water’s major costs include operations, debt service, capital improvements to the treatment and delivery system, and water purchases from outside the county.

To avoid large charge increases in any year, Valley Water develops 10-year projections so that charges can be increased gradually when needed.

Recently, Valley Water commissioned a scientific study of its groundwater benefit zones. Based on a comprehensive evaluation of geological studies, local groundwater, and the services Valley Water provides, staff has proposed a minor adjustment to the boundary of North County Zone W-2, and a partitioning of the South County zone into three zones. These adjustments ensure that ratepayers are grouped in a way that reflects the most recent and relevant data regarding the services and benefits received by well users. The 2020 PAWS report assumes that the Board will approve the proposed changes to the groundwater benefit zones, and accordingly presents the staff recommended water rates that would take effect July 1, 2020 for the new and modified zones.  However, should the Board choose not to adopt the proposed modified and new groundwater benefit zones, the existing 2 groundwater benefit zones will remain in effect.  Accordingly, staff would recommend a rate adjustment based on the existing 2 groundwater benefit zones.

What are the proposed water charges?

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is a water wholesaler. The following charges reflect what water retailers and agricultural users pay for wholesale or well water.

The "2020-21 Protection and Augmentation of Water Supplies," or PAWS 2020 Report, presents the financial and water supply information that forms the basis for the fiscal year 2020-2021 wholesale water charges. Valley Water released the PAWS 2020 Report on February 28, 2020 in compliance with the District Act and other legal requirements as part of its wholesale water rate setting process. The report does not reflect the effects, if any, of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's directive of February 20, 2020 (the "FERC Directive") with respect to the lowering of the Anderson Reservoir elevation, as Valley Water received the FERC Directive after the PAWS 2020 Report had substantially been written. Valley Water is currently reviewing what effect, if any, the Federal Directive may have on projected water supply, water cost or other potential future impacts related to the Directive.

Questions about retail water charges should be addressed to the appropriate retail water agency.

Water charges for Fiscal Year 2020-2021 (effective July 1, 2020)

Type of Charge Agricultural Water Non-Agricultural Water
(per AF) (per AF)
Basic User/Groundwater Production Charge    
    Modified Zone W-2 $28.86 $1,374
    Modified Zone W-5 $28.86 $467
    New Zone W-7 $28.86 $481
    New Zone W-8 $28.86 $327
        (See a zone map)    
Surface Water 1    
    Modified Zone W-2 Deliveries 2 $66.36 $1,411.50
    Modified Zone W-5 Deliveries 3 $66.36 $504.50
    New Zone W-7 Deliveries 4 $66.36 $518.50
    New Zone W-8 Deliveries 5 $66.36 $364.50
    Minimum Charge--modified Zone W-2 6 $21.65 $1,030.50
    Minimum Charge--modified Zone W-5 7 $21.65 $350.25
    Minimum Charge--new Zone W-7 8 $21.65 $360.75
    Minimum Charge--new Zone W-8 9 $21.65 $245.25
Treated Water    
    Contract 10 N/A $1,474
    Non-contract 11 N/A $1,574
Recycled water    
    Gilroy $56.26 $447


1 Surface water charge is the sum of the basic user charge plus the water master charge.

2 Other Modified Zone W-2 Deliveries = Basic User (AG or M&I @ $28.86/AF or $1,374/AF) + Water Master ($37.50/AF).

3 Other Modified Zone W-5 Deliveries = Basic User (AG or M&I @ $28.86/AF or $467/AF) + Water Master ($37.50/AF).

4 Other New Zone W-7 Deliveries = Basic User (AG or M&I @ $28.86/AF or $481/AF) + Water Master ($37.50/AF).

5 Other New Zone W-8 Deliveries = Basic User (AG or M&I @ $28.86/AF or $327/AF) + Water Master ($37.50/AF).

6 Minimum Charge Modified W-2 = 0.75 X Basic User W-2 (M&I @ $1,030.50/AF, Ag @ $21.65/AF).

7 Minimum Charge Modified W-5 = 0.75 X Basic User W-5 (M&I @ $350.25/AF, Ag @ $21.65/AF).

8 Minimum Charge New W-7 = 0.75 X Basic User W-7 (M&I @ $360.75/AF, Ag @ $21.65/AF).

9 Minimum Charge New W-8 = 0.75 X Basic User W-8 (M&I @ $245.25/AF, Ag @ $21.65/AF).

10 Treated Water Charge is the sum of Basic User ($1,374/AF) and Contract Treated Water Surcharge ($100/AF).

11 The charge for non-contract deliveries is the sum of the basic user charge ($1,374/AF) and the treated water surcharge for non-contract water ($200/AF) for usage greater than 100% of contract amount. 


AF = acre feet

Ag = agricultural

Non-Ag = municipal and industrial