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Coachella Valley Water - Rate Hike


Last updated 3/30/2016 at 6:39am

The Coachella Valley's largest water provider Coachella Valley Water District is considering its first residential rate hike since 2010.

Under the proposal, which the board of directors are expected to vote on in June, homes that stay within their water budgets should only see an average bill increase of around $6 per month starting this July. Excessive water users would see their bills raised by hundreds of dollars more per month.

An expensive water-quality mandate and a strained groundwater aquifer, the agency requires ways to help pay for the costliest-ever infrastructure project: treatment plants to remove a carcinogen known as chromium-6 from the region's groundwater. The plants are expected to cost $250 million up front and $8 million annually once built. .

Many water wasters are already paying temporary Drought surcharges, designed to meet Gov. Jerry Brown's 25 percent emergency conservation mandate however, a lot of people are still trying to keep their lawns covered in grass, despite the obvious difficulties of a desert climate. The permanent rate increases are designed to promote lasting conservation. “We’re hoping that because of the Drought, a lot of behavior has changed, or at least people are more sensitive to the issue, that they need to conserve," Coachella Valley Water District general manager Jim Barrett.

The Coachella Valley pumps more water from its underground aquifer than it puts back in, "That’s really what we’re trying to promote with these revisions, is greater conservation so that ultimately we have better sustainability of the aquifer.” said Barrett.

With additional rate hikes being proposed every year through 2020, the board will only vote on the first year of increases for now. The district is holding several workshops to get feedback from the public, the next meeting is scheduled for Monday at 5:30 p.m. in Coachella.

"I recognize this isn’t going to be popular. But there are a lot of things that have brought us to this point, and we can’t put it off any longer," Barrett said at Thursday's workshop, noting the increase would also pay for maintenance and infrastructure projects that have been delayed since the recession.

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