LAKE ELSINORE, CA – Today the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District (EVMWD) Board of Directors took two separate actions to maintain and operate fundamental utility services including water and sewer access, by voting in new sewer rates and water shortage surcharges.
Sewer Rate Changes
EVMWD’s rates for services must account for the true costs of providing those services, nothing more. To determine the true cost, EVMWD retained an independent financial consultant to conduct a comprehensive cost-of-service analysis and rate study. The study showed the need for sewer rate adjustments to account for increased costs for maintenance, treatment, infrastructure, and conveyance. The proposed sewer rate adjustment was approved with a 4-1 vote.
The new sewer rates will help cover the growing costs of maintaining and operating our sewer system. In recent months and years, there have been significant and unexpected changes in cost drivers, such as:
- Electricity rates have gone up 37% over the past 2 years.
- The cost of chemicals for treating wastewater has risen, with chemicals like chlorine and ammonia increasing by 112% and 79%, respectively.
- Regulations require EVMWD to expand its existing wastewater treatment plant, which is currently operating at 75% of capacity.
- The required 50% increase in the District’s treatment plant capacity will call for additional staff to operate and maintain the facility.
Under the new rates, a family of four will see an increase on their bill of less than $5.00 per month. Sewer rates are the only rates that are increasing. Water rates remain the same.
To keep rates low, EVMWD has reduced costs in other ways such as securing grants and low interest loans. Nearly $317 million in grants and low-interest loans have been secured to date, resulting in avoided interest costs of $90 million, which is a direct savings for District customers. EVMWD also secures competitive pricing from vendors and goes through a rigorous budget review process by the board of directors.
Water Shortage Surcharge
With a 5-0 vote, EVMWD also approved water shortage surcharges that can only be implemented during water shortages. The water shortage surcharge will ensure EVMWD can continue providing reliable water services when our community needs it most. Customers would NOT see a change on their bill unless an emergency declaration is issued, and implementation of the surcharges are approved by the board.
A water shortage may occur due to many reasons, such as an extended drought, water pollution, a power outage, and/or a catastrophic event. With lower water sales, water agencies often see a major drop in revenues that are needed to operate and maintain infrastructure. The surcharge can help the District recover lost revenue and ensure we can continue providing reliable water service during droughts or other disasters.
“We are striving to keep the impacts to your bill as minimal as possible and understand that any rate increases can be difficult. Both of these changes ensure that we can continue to provide quality sewer and water services to our customers as costs increase and in future emergency situations,” said Board President Andy Morris.
EVMWD is committed to supporting our customers who need financial assistance. We currently have two low-income programs available to assist customers:
- RARE: Rate Assistance for Residents of Elsinore Valley -The RARE Program allows qualifying customers to be eligible for low-income rate assistance on their water and/or sewer bill at their primary residence. In an effort to offset the sewer rate increase, the board also approved a first time $5 per month sewer credit for low income and disadvantaged customers who are enrolled in the RARE program. The RARE program is funded through non-ratepayer funds.
- LIHWAP: Low Income Household Water and Wastewater Assistance Program – EVMWD has partnered with the Community Action Partnership of Riverside County (CAP Riverside) to provide another source of financial assistance. For more information on these programs, please visit the District’s website at www.evmwd.com/customers/customer-service/assistance.
We regularly work to keep costs as low as possible and provide financial assistance to our customers, all while providing clean, reliable water and sewer services – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For more information about EVMWD projects and services, please visit www.evmwd.com.
EVMWD provides service to more than 159,000 water and wastewater customers in a 97-square-mile area in Western Riverside County. The EVMWD team delivers total water management that powers the health and vibrancy of its communities so life can flourish.