Pasadena Water and Power Interim General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger on Tuesday stressed the need to increase water rates in the city despite reduced water usage by local residents and businesses complying with conservation efforts in light of current drought conditions in California.
PWP is recommending an increase in water rates by an average of 7.1% on April 1, 2022. A second increase of 7.2% would take effect on Jan. 1, 2023.
The water rate adjustments would help pay for rising costs for purchasing and treating water, and to provide funding for critical improvements to reservoirs, treatment facilities and other water infrastructure.
“Much of it is of course aging infrastructure. You have a water system that was built in Pasadena 80 years ago, sometimes more, and that has to be replaced over time. That is expensive and it’s really the primary driver of the cost.”
“It is something that the public understandably is concerned about, ‘why do we pay more and use less.’ It’s the legacy of fixing the system as it ages,” Kightlinger said during the Municipal Services Committee’s discussion on Pasadena’s water supply and projected water use.
He made the statement after Councilmember Felicia Williams asked why the public will get increases in their bill despite reducing usage.
Last August, the City of Pasadena adopted a Level 2 Water shortage plan, requiring additional mandatory water restrictions for residents and businesses to help address the severe drought situation in California. The plan prohibits overwatering, hosing down pavement and irrigating during and within 48 hours after rainfall.
Currently, about ione third of Pasadena’s water supply comes from local groundwater supply while two thirds is imported from the Metropolitan Water District (MWD). The MWD already concluded that despite drought conditions, it has sufficient supply to meet projected demands from 2020 to 2040.
Kightlinger informed the Municipal Services Committee that one of the concerns in Pasadena is the dropping of local groundwater supply and that this has to be addressed in the future.
“That’s going to be the challenge. Pasadena Water Power staff is looking at ways to get more recharge out of the local rainfall and what we get from Arroyo Seco,” Kightlinger said. “These are things that need to be tackled over the next five years.”
Last October, to further address the drought impact and the water supply issues, the City Council adopted the Water System and Resources Plan, which is a 25-year capital and water resource planning guide that would address aging infrastructure and opportunities for new water supplies.