COMMERCE - The Central Basin Municipal Water District board of directors pledged this week to freeze all water rates for at least one year and called on the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) and the Water Replenishment District (WRD) to do the same."We are proud to provide the lowest water rates in the region," said Ed Vasquez, president of the Central Basin Board. "However, we recognize that more must be done. This is why we are pledging to freeze our rates for one year and we are asking others to join us. It's time all of us work together to put our communities first." During Monday's special board meeting, the Central Basin staff presented a draft budget that balanced out a few unavoidable increases in overhead and operational expenses with more than $830,000 in cuts across all departments. "Developing a budget that will allow us to freeze rates certainly hasn't been easy," said Central Basin general manager Art Aguilar. "But even though we had many tough decisions to make, it was critically important for us to make this happen. The historically underserved people of southeast L.A. have gotten the short end of the water pipe for long enough." Specifically, there will be no increase to either Central Basin's administrative surcharge of $70 per acre-foot, or to Central Basin's infrastructure surcharge of $20 per acre-foot. Even at a combined total of $90 per acre-foot, Central Basin's rates are the lowest among regional water agencies. The district will still be required to pass-through Metropolitan Water District's rates, which account for 90 percent of the total cost for imported water. "We implore the Metropolitan Water District to rescind their recently adopted rates and freeze their water rates at current levels," Aguilar said. "The lion's share of our rates belongs to Metropolitan. It won't be until they begin making cuts similar to ours that our ratepayers will really start to feel the effects. "Given the injustice of WRD's rate structure, which currently has the working class people of southeast L.A. subsidizing the wealthy in the South Bay, of course we had to include them in this as well," Aguilar continued. "They need to begin righting these wrongs. Freezing their rates would be a good first step.
********** Published: April 19, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 01