Sterling on the rise

EVWD’s Sterling Natural Resource Center, a wastewater recycling plant, is scheduled to go operational by the end of 2021, necessitating a wastewater rate system for district customers.

East Valley Water District (EVWD) has scheduled a public hearing for proposed water and wastewater rate increases for residential and non-residential services on Wednesday, May 12.

The public hearing will be held during an EVWD Board of Directors meeting, which begins at 5:30 p.m. Residents and property owners can watch and participate virtually with a link and phone number that will be mailed to ratepayers and posted online at eastvalley.org by the end of March.

The new rates are recommended based on a cost of service analysis (COSA) prepared for the district by IB Consulting, which was reported before the Board of Directors during its Feb. 24 meeting. The state of California requires public agencies to regularly conduct COSAs in order to evaluate whether rates are sufficient to maintain public services and that the rates are based on cost of service.

Based on the COSA, IB Consulting recommended incremental rate increases for the next three years. Based on the various increases (including water meter charge, water rates and sewer charge), in 2022 a sample single-family residence with a ¾ inch meter and within a 25 ccf water budget will have its monthly bill rise from $123.63 to $126.93, an increase of $3.30. Ratepayers’ monthly bills will each change differently based on their meter size and water use.

EVWD had completed a COSA in 2019 and was scheduled to hold a public hearing on that COSA on April 8, 2020, but the meeting was canceled due to coronavirus-related prohibitions on public gatherings.

With the 2019 COSA on hold, EVWD staff began working on a new COSA to account for the future operations of the Sterling Natural Resource Center (SNRC) wastewater recycling plant, scheduled to go on-line by the end of 2021.

According to Habib Isaac of IB Consulting, the Sterling wastewater plant represents both new expenses and new revenues for the district.

“With SNRC coming on-line you’re going to have increased expenses, however, the SNRC is also going to generate new revenue streams. It’s definitely a benefit to have that wastewater treatment plant because those revenue streams may outpace expenses,” Isaac said.

Factoring in the district’s fixed and variable revenues, operating costs and planned capital improvement projects, new costs and revenues related to Sterling treatment plant, IB Consulting calculated that the district needs to make $26.8 million in water rates revenue and $14.6 million in wastewater revenue for the 2022 fiscal year.

Water rates

Water rates will continue with the tiered rate structure introduced in 2015, which performed well during both the drought and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Isaac.

To meet the district’s needs, the proposed water rate changes for 2022 are: increase of tier 1 (indoor use) rate from $1.83 to $1.98, decrease tier 2 (outdoor use) rate from $2.61 to $2.54 and an increase of tier 3 (excessive use) rate from $3.64 to $3.93.

The decrease in tier 2 water rate is the result of the district increasing ratepayers’ tier 1 water budgets in 2020, a response to more residents spending more time at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

The water rates also reflect state water conservation legislation requiring that water agencies use 55 gallons per capita per day as the standard when calculating water usage and rates through January 2025.

 Variable water rates (per ccf)Existing202220232024
 Tier 1 $1.83 $1.98 $2.04 $2.11
 Tier 2 $2.61 $2.54 $2.62 $2.70
 Tier 3 $3.64 $3.93 $4.05 $4.18
 Monthly meter charge (most common meters shown)    
 5/8 inch $23.06 $24.01 $24.74 $25.49
 3/4 inch $29.27 $30.85 $31.78 $32.74

Wastewater rates

In preparation for Sterling going operational and EVWD taking on Highland’s sewage treatment from the city of San Bernardino, EVWD staff developed and proposed a new wastewater rate structure of its own.

According to Isaac, the city of San Bernardino used fixed residential rates and a 15-class non-residential rate system based on commercial land use categories.

Rather than adopt San Bernardino’s complex non-residential system, EVWD staff proposed a strength-based rate structure. The structure uses engineering analysis to place each non-residential customer within one of four classes based on projected sewage demand (calculated based on water usage and other engineering factors). The four non-residential classes are: low strength, medium strength, high strength and Patton State Hospital.

Non-residential wastewater rates include a fixed monthly charge plus a flow rate using one of the four strength tiers. Patton’s usage is so unique it has been placed in its own rate tier, Isaac said.

Residential customers will simply pay one of two monthly charges ⎯ single-family and multi-family.

Fixed monthly charge Existing202220232023
Single-family residential $36.91$37.62$40.26$43.09
Multi-family residential $21.32$34.32$36.74$39.32
Non-residential/commercial $7.42$21.16$294.26$314.87
Non-residential flow rates (per ccf)     
Patton State Hospital Varied$2.36$2.53$2.72
Low strength $1.33$1.31$1.41$1.52
Medium strength $2.55$1.99$2.14$2.30
High strength $3.28$3.88$4.16$4.46

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