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2018-2019 Surface Water Charge-Setting Process


The Santa Clara Valley Water District will conduct its public process for setting FY 2018/2019 groundwater and surface water charges (rates) in the Spring of 2018.

As Santa Clara County’s primary water wholesaler, the water district 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.

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 3 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 the Santa Clara Valley Water District 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, the water district suspended almost all raw surface water deliveries in 2014. Now that the historic drought is over, the district has restored surface water for those who requested it. Please keep in mind that drought conditions could return at any time. In fact, this winter-to-date has been uncharacteristically dry, providing a sober reminder that we must 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, the district must operate the largest reservoir in the county at a fraction of its storage capacity due to state imposed restrictions. Unfortunately, the cost estimate for the Anderson Dam project has risen sharply, in part, as a result of the learnings from the Oroville Dam spillway disaster a year ago. Without the California WaterFix, which is the state’s proposed plan to improve the infrastructure through which roughly 40% of the county’s water supply is delivered, these critical imported water deliveries are expected to decline in the future. The district is conscientious about utilizing the public’s money wisely, but the need to invest in large infrastructure projects is driving the need to propose an increase to water charges. The proposed maximum charges will allow the district to make the necessary investments to help ensure reliable water supply as we face uncertain and extreme climate changes.

Important dates in 2018 water charge setting process