Local water users who must make significant cutbacks in their water use may have been expecting a drop in the water bill to match their conservation efforts.
That drop is likely to be smaller than expected because the California Water Service Company (Cal Water) has applied to raise rates by 21 percent, beginning in July. The hike would offset what the company calls "a significant increase" in the price of wholesale water from the San Francisco regional water system, the main source of water for the Peninsula.
In a letter sent to customers, the Bear Gulch Water District said the increased rates would be "a direct pass-through of the higher water prices" it must pay. The district covers Atherton, Portola Valley, most of Woodside, and parts of Menlo Park and Redwood City.
Monthly service charges would remain the same, except for customers with a 1-inch meter for fire sprinklers, who would see their service charge decrease from $40.03 a month to $20.29 a month.
Cal Water measures water in units of 100 cubic feet (CCF). Charges for the first 10 CCFs would be $5.91, up from $4.63; for the next 25 CCFs, $6.28, up from $4.92; for any CCFs over 35, $7.50, up from $5.88. Rates were last adjusted last August.
In addition, customers who use more than their allocated "water budget," which in most cases requires a 36 percent monthly decrease from 2013 monthly use, will see a surcharge of $10 per CCF unit added to their bills.
Cal Water has said that the average Bear Gulch customer used 23 CCF per month of water in 2014. Customers using that amount of water would see an increase of $30.48 per month, but will also be hit with a surcharge of $90 for going 9 CCF units over their water budgets. The total increase would be $120.48 a month.
The good news? If those average customers decrease their water use by the prescribed 36 percent to 14 units, their bill would be $26 less than it was in 2014.