A news release published on April 19, 2016 by Restore the Delta includes several misleading errors that should be corrected.
For the past three years, as part of the annual groundwater production charge review, staff has shared with the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors realistic and reasonable cost scenarios for California WaterFix so the board and the public could understand the potential cost implications of the project. While the board has not yet determined whether to support California WaterFix, it is essential that the potential cost scenarios be included in the rate projections, for full transparency.
Restore the Delta’s implication that California WaterFix would triple or quadruple groundwater fees is patently incorrect.
As part of our annual process of presenting the proposed groundwater production charges to our rate payers, staff presents projections of all potential future costs. The cost projections include all costs that we reasonably expect could occur in future years. They do not constitute a “new fee,” but rather a transparent projection of how rates could be impacted by various scenarios.
Further, the release miscalculated the projection for M&I groundwater charges in 2026 that would be based on the “high case” California WaterFix cost projection. Our projection is that the “high case” South County rate would be $754/AF, not $859/AF, and the North County “high case” rate would be $2,510/AF, not $2,710/AF.
We typically provide a range of costs, with a “high case” at one end and a “low case” at the other. The Restore the Delta release did not mention the “low case.” However, staff’s “low case” projection for South County would be $569/AF in 2026. For North County, the low case would be $2,309. The current rate projection, which includes a reasonable California WaterFix cost projection, reflects that the North County M&I groundwater charge in 2026 would be $2,332/AF, and $604/AF in South County.
Restore the Delta implies that these projected increases are entirely a result of including California WaterFix cost projections. Actually, they include a wide variety of unrelated future infrastructure costs. To put it in perspective, the current rate projections cited above reflect a reasonable scenario that California WaterFix could add $38/AF to the South County rate in FY 2026 and $75/AF for North County in FY 2026. These figures are in the range of scenarios that have been previously presented to the district board during other discussions of California WaterFix. We have been clear with the board that these numbers could end up higher or lower.
We encourage all stakeholders to be careful with the facts they present. As the water district board considers the pros and cons of California WaterFix over the next year, the board and the public are best served when factual information is provided. The board has always welcomed input from all stakeholders on this critical issue of statewide significance.
Note: South County is the groundwater zone (W-5) that is generally south of Metcalf Road in San José and includes the cities of Morgan Hill and Gilroy. North County (W-2) includes the groundwater zone north of Metcalf Road.