San Juan Capistrano

Just Buy Water from the Cheapest Source!

By Kim Lefner

Mixed messages about the high cost of water leave ratepayers asking “Are rate increases really necessary?” and “What is the true cost of producing ‘our own’ water?” So we approached the CCS’ “resident water expert” John Perry of the Capistrano Taxpayers Association (CTA) to get the scoop about the true cost of water and the proposed rate increases.

Perry stated that the city applies our property tax revenue only to Tier 1 in an attempt he says, to make the Tier 1 water rate appear lower than what it really is. If you removed the tax subsidy from Tier 1, the rate would increase by about 40%.

This is problematic says Perry, because the amount of water (in ccfs) the city allocates for Tier 1 is so unrealistically low (it’s based on third world standards) that most people who bought homes with yards and/or pools before the cost of water was an issue, are pushed up into Tiers 2, 3 or 4 which get no property tax subsidy. 
Perry maintains that since ratepayers in Tiers 2, 3 & 4 are already punished with unreasonably and progressively higher rates; the tax subsidy should be equally distributed among those tiers to make the water more affordable for all - and not just one category of ratepayer. We agree with the Capistrano Taxpayers Association that all water users should benefit from their property taxes, not just the ones who are able to stay within Tier 1. At the very least, the city should increase the allocation in Tier 1 so that homeowners with families who committed the “sin” of purchasing a home with a yard prior to the water plant being built, are not punished by being pushed up into higher Tiers.

Councilman Derek Reeve agrees as well. In his column in this month’s issue of the CCS, he makes the case for lowering water rates for all by simply purchasing the water from the least expensive source and charging one uniform rate. That way, ratepayers are being charged only for what they use and are not being charged to subsidize the water use of only one category of ratepayer.

Having researched and reported on this issue over the past few years, our take on this issue is that the insistence of City Councilmen Sam Allevato, Larry Kramer and John Taylor to dump money into the failed Ground Water Recovery Plant increases the cost of water for all of us. The solution, as advocated by Councilman Reeve, Councilman Roy Byrnes and CTA Board member John Perry, is simple: “buy the water from the cheapest source.” That makes sense to us.

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