Rates & Charges
Water Rate Adjustments
Pico Water District (District) provides water service to ratepayers within its boundaries. While the District strives to be efficient and competitive with its rates, its costs continue to rise due to the replacement of aging infrastructure and undersized mainlines, drilling of new wells and the installation of a new treatment system to remove per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), the collective term for a group of synthetic chemicals detected in some of the District’s wells.
In an effort to make sure the District was being a good steward of its resources it hired Bartle Wells Associates (an independent financial consultant specializing in water rate reviews) in 2019 to review its water rates and planned ten-year capital improvement projects, and to provide the District with a new rate plan. Bartle Wells Associates (BWA) provided the District with a new water rate plan that is both cost effective, competitive and will generate the funds needed in the future to replace aging infrastructure and water quality needs. The new Water Rate Plan should generate sufficient funding to provide new treatment facilities, increase safety standards, make critical equipment upgrades and maintain long-term financial stability.
The Board of Directors approved the new Water Rate Plan during a public hearing and meeting on December 16, 2020. The new rates become effective on February 14, 2021.
In an effort to inform customers and meet the requirements of Proposition 218, formal notice of the proposed water rate adjustments and public hearing was mailed to all Pico Water District customers on October 30, 2020. Copies of those notices are provided below:
Pico Water District held a virtual Community Meeting to educate customers and address questions or concerns regarding the proposed rate adjustment on November 19, 2020.
A flyer containing additional details about the proposed rate adjustments can be found by clicking the links below:
The Water Bill Estimator is a tool to give customers a sense of how their water costs will change if the new rates are approved. The goal is to make estimating your bill as easy as possible.
To use the Bill Estimator:
- Select your meter size. Rates for all single-family homes are calculated using a 5/8-inch meter.
- Enter your water consumption in the space provided. NOTE: Water consumption is measured and noted on your bill in hundred cubic feet (HCF). 1HCF = 748 gallons.
- Click the Estimate button.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why did Pico Water District adopt new water rates?
As a public agency, Pico Water District periodically reviews its rate structure. In 2020 a new cost of service review performed by Bartle Wells Associates determined current revenue was not sufficient to cover all the costs of providing water to its customers. Bartle Wells Associates, an independent financial consultant recommended rate adjustments to improve treatment to meet health and safety standards, make critical equipment upgrades and maintain long-term financial stability.
The new water rate structure eliminates tiered volumetric rates. The tiered rates are replaced by a flat uniform volumetric rate which charges the same price for all water delivered to a customer. The volumetric rate and service charge will be adjusted annually on February 14 through 2025.
When do the new rates begin?
The initial water rate adjustment takes effect on February 14, 2021. Subsequent water rate adjustments will take place on February 14 each year through 2025.
Is this a one-time adjustment?
To ensure long-term financial stability for Pico Water District, water rates will be adjusted annually through 2025 to account for increased costs due to new legislative regulations, planned capital improvement projects, increased utility costs, ongoing maintenance costs, administrative costs and increased treatment costs.
How are water rates calculated?
Your water bill is based on a water rate structure that includes a monthly fixed meter charge, a monthly fixed surcharge and a volumetric water use charge. The Monthly Fixed Charges are based on water meter size and cover costs such as account servicing expenses, debt payments, most general and administrative costs and a portion of maintenance expenses. The monthly surcharge is a charge dedicated to the repayment of a seven-million-dollar loan the District took out in 2015 to replace needed undersized mainlines and rill a new well. The Volumetric Rate is based on how much water passes through a customer’s meter. This covers the costs of water treatment and distribution, maintenance, conservation programs, a portion of general and administrative costs and for water to replenish groundwater supplies.
What is a pass-through charge?
Certain provider expenses, such as water to maintain groundwater levels, may increase more than anticipated in the future. In the event that occurs, Pico Water District would “pass-through” the increased charges by adjusting rates to cover those exact expenses. Prior to initiating any pass-through adjustment, the District will notify all customers at least 30 days in advance of implementation.
How does the District use the money from its water rates?
Approximately 25% of the District’s budget pays for operation and maintenance expenses, with another 25% covering the cost of water purchases to maintain groundwater levels. Administrative costs are roughly 34% of District expenses with the remaining money spent on debt, capital costs and water conservation efforts.
What is PFAS and why do we need to treat for it now?
PFAS stands for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances and is the collective term for a large group of synthetic chemicals that includes perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS). The compounds were widely used in products that resist heat, oils, stains and water such as stain resistant carpets and fabrics, paints, water resistant clothing, fast-food packaging, non-stick cookware, firefighting foams and personal care products.
On February 6, 2020, the State Water Resources Control Board lowered the Response Level of these chemicals to 10 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and 40 ppt for PFOS. The rate adjustment provides funding for Pico Water District to treat drinking water and ensure PFOA and PFOS levels remain below these state standards.
Is Pico Water District trying to increase profits?
Pico Water District is a not-for-profit government agency. By law, the District must charge no more than the actual costs of providing water service to our customers.
How can I lower my water bill?
For many customers, outdoor water use is a major source of water consumption. Converting grass to water-friendly landscaping will reduce water demand and smart irrigation controllers help ensure those systems operate efficiently.
Good water habits such as taking shorter showers, fixing leaks, and running dishwashers and washing machines only when full also help reduce water use.
Newer technology can also help with conservation. To encourage customers to invest in water saving devices, a number of rebates are available. Visit https://www.picowaterdistrict.net/Conservation_&_Rebates for details.
Additional Information and Questions
For further details regarding the rate increases to the District’s water rates or fees, please contact the District office at (562) 692-3756.
Recycled Water Rates
The District charges $1.83 per hundred cubic feet of water used. The District purchases recycled water from the Central Basin Municipal Water District.