A 53.6% rate increase will be considered by the Crestview board October 28. Here’s why.

From the General Manager’s report discussing the draft budget:

If the Board accepts Staff’s recommendations on the above rate structure, the average shareholder will see a 53.6% increase in annual water cost over 2021 for the same amount of water.  A low water user will see a 26.9% increase and a high water user will see a 41.4% increase.

The increases are principally due to projected increases in purchased water–550 acre-feet next year compared to Crestview’s long-term average of 230 acre-feet annually.

The reasons for this increase are a little complicated but important because there are ways to reduce, or even to reverse, the increase.

Crestview is permitted by Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency (“FCGMA”) to pump 748 acre-feet in CY2022.  If Crestview had two healthy wells, it could pump that full amount and buy only 205 acre-feet from Calleguas, but Well #4 became unproductive and was shut down in August 2021.  The general manager’s assessment is that Crestview cannot pump the whole FCGMA allocation from Well #6 for very long without drawing down the aquifer so much that Well #6 could also become unproductive.  He has determined that the “sustainable” production rate of Well #6 is about 800,000 gallons per day.  It is projected that system demand will exceed 800,000 g/d in every month from May through November.  When Well #6 cannot meet all of the system demands, it will be shut down and the whole system will be supplied by imported northern California water from Calleguas.

If Well #6 could be operated at up to 800,000 gallons per day in every month, that would reduce water purchases by about 442 acre-feet, which would reduce projected purchases by 80% to 108 acre-feet.  Because the FCGMA allocation is greater next year than in 2021, that would allow a rate reduction next year instead of an increase.

Why is Crestview not planning to do that?  When Crestview well water disinfected with chlorine is mixed with Calleguas water, which is disinfected with chloramines, there will be taste and odor problems which are not unsafe but are objectionable to some users.  Perhaps the taste and odor resemble a swimming pool?  Would users agree to try that for a few weeks to see if it is tolerable enough to get a rate reduction instead of a rate increase?

There is another possibility for reducing the projected cost of imported water.  The consumption in the months of May and November are only slightly above the 800,000 g/d sustainable production rate of Well #6.  If Well #6 were overpumped a little bit in just those two months, that would reduce water purchase requirements by 147 acre-feet (about 27% of proposed purchases) and enable a smaller rate increase.  (Only Crestview staff could make an accurate prediction about the effect on the rate increase.)

The general manager’s report states that it will be at least two years before another well could go into production.  Therefore, the budget decisions–and implicit policy decisions–made by our board on October 28 are likely to continue for two years or more.  Let your board know your views by emailing a comment to crestviewwater@live.com and/or by attending the October 28 meeting.  You can attend virtually by emailing crestviewwater@live.com and requesting Zoom login credentials.

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