The Crestview board has unanimously approved the FY 2022 budget with a few changes from the draft. The higher rates will not start until January 1. Staff compensation increases were not included in the budget approval motion.
If less water is sold than in the average of the last 4 years (869.211 acre-feet), then rates would have to be increased even more to keep the company cash-flow neutral. General manager Robert Eranio said sales might be “quite a bit lower” than budgeted. The following reasons why that might happen were discussed.
- Metropolitan Water District has asked all its customers to reduce water consumption by 20% versus 2020. Crestview has not yet reacted to this, but it probably will do so, perhaps in its December board meeting. In a prior drought, Crestview imposed limits on outdoor water use, and there was discussion about how best to do that again. The budget contains a $36,000 conservation fund and there was some discussion of how it might be used. No action was taken on any conservation measures.
- The Department of Water Resources has announced it will be releasing zero percent of the water Crestview’s suppliers (Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Calleguas Municipal Water District) have contracted for. This could be increased if there are good rains in the next few months. If not, Crestview is likely to be restricted on how much imported water it is permitted to buy.
- There is a possibility of a State ban on outdoor use of water if the drought continues.
- The new higher rates, especially for Tier 3, may induce users to use less water in order to save money.
- Users may heed official pleas and publicity about the drought to use less water as a matter of civic responsibility.
- There is increasing awareness of cash incentives from other agencies to adopt conservation measures such as smart irrigation systems and turf removal.
The only development that might allow rate reductions in a revised mid-year budget is getting Well #4 back into production. That would be very beneficial because local groundwater is comparatively cheap and our pumping rights have not yet been reduced. The board approved a plan to do that by April 15, but there are several things that could go wrong or delay that project. We will be posting soon about Well #4.