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DSRSD board approves water rate increase

Decision made in response to Zone 7 action, agency says

In response to increased and restructured wholesale water rates, Dublin San Ramon Services District's Board of Directors unanimously approved a rate increase for its water customers in the Dougherty Valley and Dublin that will take effect Feb. 1.

The board signed off on the rate increase at its regular meeting Tuesday night following a public hearing. District spokeswoman Sue Stephenson said that while the exact increase will vary based on household consumption, residential customers who use 10 units -- or 7,480 gallons -- of water per billing cycle can expect to pay $5 more each bill.

DSRSD officials say the rate increase is a result of the Zone 7 Water Agency’s adoption of a three-year rate plan with annual increases for its retailers and a temporary drought surcharge. DSRSD purchases substantially all of its potable water from Zone 7 and has been passing Zone 7’s charge for the cost of the water on to its customers since 2002, officials said.

Also a primary factor was Zone 7’s new rate structure, which its board approved last October. Instead of charging retailers solely based on the amount of water used, Zone 7 has added a monthly fixed charge on top of the volumetric rate. This calendar year, DSRSD will pay Zone 7 $4.4 million in fixed charges, according to a staff memo.

DSRSD already has a fixed charge as a part of its rate structure, Stephenson said.

“They’re billing us differently than they used to, and it’s smarter,” Stephenson said. “The drought got a lot of agencies to look at their rate structures and realize that when people cut back on water use, the cost of providing service remains.”

Zone 7 officials have said the rate increases were needed to offset revenue lost because of the drought.

Once notified of the Zone 7 rate increase that would take effect Jan. 1, DSRSD directed staff to schedule a public hearing and send out notices about its proposed increase. The agency sent out over 20,000 notices and received five written protests in response.

No one spoke about the rate increase during Tuesday’s public hearing.

Customers can estimate their prospective new rates through DSRSD’s online bill calculator. Anyone with questions about their bill can contact the agency’s customer service department at 846-4565.

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