Groveland weighs rate increases

By Alex MacLean, The Union Democrat

Water and sewer bills for Groveland Community Services District customers could be going up - or down - depending on how much they conserve.

The GCSD Board of Directors will hold a public hearing at 10 a.m. Monday, to give the public a chance to weigh in on proposed emergency rate increases that are related to the current statewide drought.

Roughly 3,300 Groveland residents receive water service from the district, while about 1,800 receive sewer service.

District General Manager Jon Sterling said the rate increases are intended to offset the inevitable loss of revenue from mandatory water restrictions enacted by the board in late June that require district customers to reduce their usage by at least 20 percent.

"Our revenue will go down during a period of conservation, but our responsibilities remain the same," he said. "Costs for laboratory testing, repairs and regulatory compliance do not change … This is our effort to maintain a revenue stream that allows us to keep the district in business."

Under the proposed water rate increases, GCSD customers who use more than 4,000 gallons per month could see their water bill increase by about a dollar or more, while those who use less than that amount would see a decrease of less than one cent.

The proposed sewer rate increases are structured slightly different. Customers who use 3,500 gallons per month and cut their usage by 20 percent will be charged nearly $2 less per month, while those who use the same amount but don't cut their usage could see a monthly increase of nearly $4 to $6.

"If people participate in conservation, then they can control what their bills are," Sterling said.

The average GCSD customer uses about 136 gallons per day, or roughly 4,100 gallons per month. However, Sterling noted that the district features a wide array of customers from commercial businesses to part-time residents.

GCSD purchases water that's stored in Hetch Hetchy Reservoir from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, while Tuolumne Utilities District - the county's largest water purveyor - receives free water from Pacific Gas and Electric Co. under a long-term agreement.

PUBLIC MEETING: Groveland Community Services District, 10 a.m. Monday, 18966 Ferretti Road, Groveland.

For the complete story, see the July 18, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.

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