Water rate adjustments

Dear Editor:I read Byron Dillon's letter ("Water Conservation," Letters to the Editor, 1/23/14) and, like him, I am concerned about our water supply. Conservation seems obvious, but private water companies are undermining our conservation efforts with a process in our water bills by which we are essentially penalized for saving water. It's called WRAM - "Water Rate Adjustment Mechanism" - and you will find it on your private company water bill. I live in the Northern California town of Chico. I have a group of friends, Chico Taxpayers Association, who have been networking with a growing number of people in Butte, Sutter, Lake and Glenn counties who are concerned about the way private water companies are billing consumers. WRAM comes into your bill when your water usage falls below what your private provider determines is necessary to cover their expenses for that month. Over the past year this has added anywhere from $8-$20 to my monthly bill, while I've been replacing plumbing and killing sections of landscaping. Here in Chico, Cal Water's "expenses" included over $1.7 million to provide fully-paid pensions and health benefits, cover "general office operation expenses" and new salaries, but only $163,000 for infrastructural maintenance. WRAM allows them to manipulate rates at will, monthly, without any public hearing or CPUC process. Municipal water companies do not have WRAM. My friends and I are asking legislators to suspend WRAM for full investigation. You can contact me at chicotaxpayers.com. You can also contact Assemblyman Anthony Rendon (assemblymember.rendon@asm.ca.gov), who sits on the committee that oversees water issues, and ask him to call for the suspension of WRAM. Juanita Sumner Chico

********** Published: Feb. 6, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 43