Water Rate Study for 2020 (Novato Service Area)

(Posted April 9, 2020) The District conducted an extensive cost-of-services study to review our Novato Service Area water rates and charges. Water rates pay for the transport and delivery of safe, high-quality, and reliable water to your home or business, and for the employees needed to run a complex water system.

  • The District has long focused on keeping customer rates low by controlling costs. For example, the Water District has reduced the number of full-time employees over the past decade, limited future pension costs, installed lower cost solar power, and more. These actions have saved millions of dollars, helping help keep current water rates the lowest Marin County and at the median for the Bay Area region. Nonetheless, rising operating costs will exceed revenue in the coming years.
  • District must increase revenue by 6% to pay for higher imported water costs and increased funding for critical upgrades to its aging infrastructure. The District maintains a $137 million system of pipelines, pumps, reservoirs, treatment plants, valves and hydrants, a laboratory, monitoring systems and more. Some of these systems, are over 70 years old. The District must increase re-investment from about $2.5 million per year to 6 million per year in order to properly maintain and upgrade the system.
  • Rate structure changes. The District conducted an extensive cost-of-service study of every aspect of the District’s service, including water purchases, treatment and delivery, facility replacement and upgrades, and daily operations. The study found changes in the proportion of costs required to serve each customer class (residential and commercial) caused by changes in customer water use, state regulations, service costs, and other factors. As a result, the District is proposing changes to the rate structure to ensure that each class of customer continues to pay their fair and proportional share of costs.
  • Individual water bill changes will vary. Customer bills will be recalculated based on the actual cost of serving each customer class as determined in the cost of service study. As a result, individual customer bill changes may be more or less than the overall 6% rale increase. The typical residential customer (56% of all customers) will pay about $4 more per month after the proposed changes ($8 on their bi-monthly bill).
  • Your input is important. The Board of Directors reviewed the proposed rate changes at two Special Board meeting and Water Rate Study workshops on Feburary 11, 2020 and February 25, 2020. Before the changes are approved, there will be more public board meetings and a notice will be mailed to every property owner with more details. Public input is welcome and encouraged throughout the process. The next meeting is scheduled for March 3, 2020 where the board will consider accepting the rate study report. A public hearing is scheduled for June 16, 2020 where the board will consider approval of new water rates.