Paso Robles facing water rate hike

April 6, 2011

Paso Robles City Council continued on Tuesday night to work toward raising water rates to pay for the cities share of the recently completed Nacimiento Water Project. [Tribune]

Council members voted unanimously to approve a proposal to adopt a water rate increase, their sixth attempt at a rate increase since 2007. On April 19, the council will vote on whether or not to approve the proposal.

In May, the Council approved the same rate increase prompting Concerned Citizens for Paso Robles to file a lawsuit that claimed the increase should be considered a special tax, requiring a two-thirds vote under state law.

However, San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Martin Tangeman in October did not agree and ruled that the increased rates are not a special tax. In support of Concerned Citizens, he rule that the mailers sent out by the city did not accurately describe the reasons for the rate hikes.

In February, the council approved new notices that describe its reasons for raising rates.

Concerned Citizens spokesman John Borst said his group will determine how to battle the the rate hike if the council votes to approve the fee increase proposal on April 19.

The current proposal is a rate increase based on individual water usage that drops the $18 fixed fee that appears on bills now. Rates would go up incrementally starting at $1.32 per 748 gallons used before reaching $4.40 per unit in 2015.

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Question: Is this cost also being passed on to all of the vineyard owners, golf courses and others who profit from the pumping of ground water? Or is it only the residential customers who will be paying?

Almost all of the major vineyards are outside of the City’s jurisdiction, and are in the County. If they are not within City limits, then they do not fall under City authority. So, no. The rate system is fair as the more you use, the more you pay. The bigger industries, golf courses, etc. who do use more water, will pay more. Residential fees will go up, but that is the law of supply and demand. As populations grow and resources shrink, the price of those resources goes up.

Well, when I moved to this county, the city of Paso was only 7500 people and there were NO vineyards except for Pesenti, York Mt. and Rotta.

Since that time the explosion of water pumping in the Paso Robles Ground Water Basin for wine grapes has drawn down the wells. Today many who have lived in the areas adjacent to the city for generations are having to drill deeper wells or those who live inside the city limits are going to have to buy naci water. Think there is any connection?

Is the naci water project an insurance policy for more growth?

Is the building and planning department looking at limiting future growth or implementing a moritorium on building till a reliable source of water is online.

Are the city residents going to pony up to ensure there is the water for future growth?

Oh my heart bleeds for the people of Paso! They might lose their $18 fixed fee for water! I average $125/month here in Los Osos.