City's residents face water hikes as local officials explain Lemoore's water needs

By Ed Martin, Editor
Lemoore water tank north of Lemoore on 18th Avenue.
Lemoore water tank north of Lemoore on 18th Avenue.

Lemoore City officials took the latest step – one of several it needs to take – as it plans to raise water rates in the next year. A roomful of interested citizens participated in a special water workshop, at its regular city council study session Tuesday (April 19), where consultants and city officials said rates must rise in order to combat drought-induced revenue drops and expected large public works water projects in upcoming years.

In slide presentations by Lemoore consultant Dan Bergmann and Lemoore Public Works Director Nathan Olsen, Lemoore residents were told they currently pay some of the lowest rates in the Valley, currently about $25 a month based on a single family home which uses typically 15,000 gallons per month. That cost could jump 16 percent beginning January 1, 2017 and then another 28 percent in 2018, and 30 percent in 2019.

By 2020 the residents of a typical single family home would see their 2016 water costs jump from $25 to $62 per month.

View Water Presentation, City Council Agenda

Last year, the city received an Alternative Compliance Order, relieving Lemoore from certain water use reduction measures. The city, due in large part to a number of large industrial water users, was unable to comply with the state’s water mandates and applied for and received an alternative order, which called for a water-rate study.

Any water rate increase is also subject to the requirements of Proposition 218, passed by voters in 1997, which requires public input into any pay hike. Should the city received a majority of written protests, any rate hike could be sent packing.

The drought has had a deliberative effect on the city’s water fund, called an Enterprise fund because fees and revenues are expected to pay the costs of water services. Last year city officials saw a substantial drop in water usage, inspired by the drought as well as state mandates to conserve water. The less water used means fewer dollars coming into the water fund, causing a deficit, about a 30 percent reduction in 2015 from 2013.  

City officials working with consultants, have spent months evaluating existing rates, revenue, metering and determining the improvements needed to assure a reliable source of clean water for Lemoore’s residents.

The city will seek new city wells, replace the decades-old water line from the north wells outside the city limits, create a process for ridding the city’s water of arsenic and trihalomethanes – the byproducts of chlorination – all at a total cost of $33,010,500, which if implemented, would be the largest capital project undertaken by the city.

Comments powered by Disqus