Pleasanton Council suspends annual rate increase on water bills

Urges those angry about increased bills to take complaints to Zone 7 board

Under fire from Pleasanton homeowners alarmed by rising water bills, the City Council Tuesday voted to suspend for one year the city's portion of the automatic Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase on water and sewer rates for 2017.

The move came after speakers told the council that their bills had increased by 30% or more although they had cut water usage by at least that much since the 2014 drought began.

City Manager Nelson Fialho said the council's action , while providing some relief to Pleasanton's utility customers, will result in an estimated loss in revenue to the city's Water and Sewer Fund of approximately $600,000. The shortfall will be managed by postponing some planned maintenance projects.

"Pleasanton, like many other water customers throughout the state, have seen their water rates increase as a result of the drought," he said. "But in our community, we want to provide a bit of relief to our customers in recognition of their conservation efforts, which exceeded the state mandate of 25% water reduction during the drought."

In October 2015, the city council approved a new master fee schedule for water and sewer rates and authorized automatic CPI based adjustments to the Pleasanton portion of customers' utility bills as a way to ensure the city's water and sewer enterprise funds remain solvent.

The water and sewer rates collected by the city are used for maintenance and operation of the distribution system, which enables the delivery of water to households and sewage to the Dublin San Ramon Sewer District (DSRSD) treatment plant.

The council voted unanimously to suspend this automatic increase for all of 2017.

With regard to Pleasanton's portion of the water and sewer utility managed by the city, Fialho explained:

"Using less water and paying more for it has been hard on all of us, and it's an understatement to say that water pricing is complicated. There are fixed costs to water and its delivery that will never go away, but we wanted to do something to give consumers a break.

"I'm just glad that the city is in the position to provide this relief, even if it is temporary."

Tri-Valley Water retailers including the city of Pleasanton, receive their water from the Zone 7 Water Agency, the Tri-Valley's water wholesale provider. The Zone 7 board is a separately elected governing body that sets rates on behalf of the region it serves.

The Zone 7 board of directors approved new water rates that will take effect in January 2017 and will increase the water portion of

consumers' utility bills by 18.7%, from $3.15 to $3.74 for every Ccf of water consumed.

Like many other water wholesalers that provide water throughout the state, the Zone 7 board approved the rate increase in order to recover revenues that were lost during the drought, as well as to maintain the

infrastructure needed for water delivery and to manage the groundwater basin.

The city's action Tuesday night is unrelated to the Zone 7 action to increase rates.

Councilwoman Kathy Narum, who with Councilwoman Karla Brown serve as liaison delegates from the council to Zone, told those who have complained about increased water bills, to take their concerns to the Zone 7 board directly.

The Zone 7 board meets on the third Wednesday of each month, with the next public meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 21 at 100 North Canyons Parkway in Livermore.

For more information on Zone 7, sign on to its Website at


10 people like this
Posted by pleasanton native
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Dec 8, 2016 at 9:56 am

Perhaps the water district could cut some of their raises they just got to help the revenue instead of increasing our water rates.

8 people like this
Posted by res1
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Dec 8, 2016 at 10:15 am

"Councilwoman Kathy Narum, who with Councilwoman Karla Brown serve as liaison delegates from the council to Zone, told those who have complained about increased water bills, to take their concerns to the Zone 7 board directly." Wait a minute. It is Narum's responsibility to bring our concerns to the Zone 7 board. She is skirting her responsibility by being a liaison to Zone 7.

If you want anything to be done about our high rates, you MUST contact the Zone 7 liaisons PLUS the Zone 7 Board of Directors. Email them all today and tell your neighbors to do so. If they do not get many emails, they will just say that nobody cares.

Pleasanton Zone 7 Liaison Members:

Kathy Narum,, Zone 7 liaison
Karla Brown,, Zone 7 liaison

Zone 7 Board Elected Members:

Dick Quigley,, Pleasanton Resident
Angela Ramirez Holmes,, Pleasanton Resident
John Greci,, Livermore Resident
Sarah Palmer,, Livermore Resident
Bill Stevens,, Livermore Resident

15 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Dec 8, 2016 at 10:25 am

We all knew that rates had to go up when everyone was suddenly encouraged to cut back on water use. That was inevitable. The water system has large fixed costs and so they have to keep revenues flowing in by raising rates if everyone cuts back on water use. If the rate increases are "fair" then the amount by which the water rate has been increased should be counterbalanced by the amount that the average user has cut back their water use so that the total water bill should be about the same as before the drought restrictions.

8 people like this
Posted by mooseturd
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 8, 2016 at 10:47 am

mooseturd is a registered user.

I'm with Sam. Maybe our council should tell us whether bills to residences have risen or fallen since 2013 when we started being whipped to reduce consumption.

3 people like this
Posted by res1
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Dec 8, 2016 at 1:14 pm

Good point. Actually if our bills were the same now as before the restrictions, the agency should be making a bit more profit since there is less water being used/purchased. If the bills now are higher than before the restrictions then the agency should be called to task.

2 people like this
Posted by Long-time Ptowner
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2016 at 9:48 am

We are DARNED if we DO and DARNED if we DON'T!! Cannot seem to win, get ahead in this town :-( Sad.

6 people like this
Posted by res1
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Dec 9, 2016 at 10:00 am

However, if you are paying more now than before the restrictions, Zone 7 is taking advantage of you. Their claim is we use less water so they are not collecting enough for their fixed costs. However, if we used less water BUT still payed the same as before the restrictions, they would be collecting the same amount. No reason for them to collect more now, on an absolute value, than before restrictions unless they are trying to take advantage of us. Also, with the new housing going online now, there are more people paying which is increasing the income to them.

6 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Dec 9, 2016 at 10:26 am

Good point pleasanton native! The raises the Zone 7 board gave themselves was HUGE!

6 people like this
Posted by Ellen
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 9, 2016 at 11:53 am

People's bills have doubled and some tripled, even with lower usage and we have not had access to the new billing portal to be able to compare rates and units, etc. I believe meters are being upgraded as well. People all over town have been having their lines checked for leaks because there is no rhyme or reason for all of the increases.

I understand the fixed costs, but it most definitely does not account for such high increases in people's water bills.

NBC Bay Area did a story last month and another news story is being researched right now I believe. There is a large and growing vocal group in the Vintage Hills Nextdoor community who is organizing and attending Zone 7 meetings to try to get our voices heard. The issue seems very complicated and there is a lot of passing of the buck going on.
Web Link

2 people like this
Posted by Ellen
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 9, 2016 at 12:02 pm

Here is a link to below to Zone 7 salaries for 2015. You can go back to prior years and compare as well. Somewhere I saw salaries with names included but I can no longer find that. This has job titles only.

Web Link

8 people like this
Posted by Ellen
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 9, 2016 at 12:06 pm

Right after I hit submit, I found the link with names. It is on the Transparent California web site.

I am not one to criticize people for making "too much" money, but it is unethical to give yourselves huge increases while gauging everyone else for conserving. Apparently our Washington politicians do not have a monopoly on this practice :/

Here you go:
Web Link

5 people like this
Posted by Roger Hall
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Dec 9, 2016 at 1:39 pm

Droughts are a regular feature of this part of California and will continue into the future. Given the scarcity and unpredictability of rain, the explosion of building of offices and homes from San Jose to San Francisco and beyond, is government lunacy. Here in Pleasanton there is non-stop building and imported population growth. No doubt politicians and developers do well in the short term but smart people are leaving this beautiful State and its crazy political caste for saner pastures. Stop the building and stop being obsessed with 'growth'. Karla Brown is the only sane and selfless politician in the East Bay.

1 person likes this
Posted by Also Concerned
a resident of Del Prado
on Dec 10, 2016 at 8:48 am

Also Concerned is a registered user.

Just heard on the news that the State of California has just been approved for millions of dollars by the federal government for our drought. What will Governor Brown do with this money? LA MOST LIKELY

9 people like this
Posted by Another Outraged Resident
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Dec 11, 2016 at 4:35 pm

Another Outraged Resident is a registered user.

Take a look at the $75K raise to ~400K/ year given to Zone 7 GM "Jill" Deurig during the "crisis" period over the past 2 years while they were merrily hiking our rates 50%+ claiming losses.

Where is the shared pain?

If water usage & supplies are back to normal, why are the rates not back to 2014 rates?. Why raise rates 50% and keep them there forever?

It's all a scheme to enrich themselves for perpetuity under the guise of drought.

Web Link

4 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 12, 2016 at 2:47 pm

Just got my notice in the mail. Rates going up by 18.7% effective January 2017. This town is becoming a joke.

Like this comment
Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Del Prado
on Dec 13, 2016 at 10:06 am


The Bay Area has become a playground for the rich so everything is expected to cost more. My solution is to make more $$$$ or just head to Idaho.

3 people like this
Posted by FrequentWalkerMiles
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2016 at 12:26 pm

FrequentWalkerMiles is a registered user.

"The Bay Area has become a playground for the rich so everything is expected to cost more. My solution is to make more $$$$ or just head to Idaho."

You must not get out much. Bay Area has become a playground for the rich AND those on public assistance/welfare. If you think everyone living in the Bay Area is actually paying for their own living expenses, I have some ocean front property in Idaho to sell you.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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