RIVERSIDE – During a public hearing on Wednesday, June 2, Western Municipal Water District’s (Western) Board of Directors, by a vote of 3 to 1, approved a 2 percent rate increase for residential water and up to a 3.9 percent rate increase for wastewater (sewer) services this year, with annual increases scheduled for the next three years. The adjustment will help water and sewer rates keep pace with the increasing costs of providing safe, reliable water and wastewater services for Riverside and Murrieta customers.
Going into effect with the billing statement issued on or after July 1, 2021, average bills in the first year for the median residential customer will increase $2 for customers that only receive water service, and up to $4 per month if a customer also receives sewer services from Western.
In addition to residential rates, commercial businesses, agricultural, landscape, commercial customers with private fire service and those who receive sewer service from Western will see a rate adjustment on their monthly bills.
Western’s water flows through hundreds of miles of aqueducts and pipelines to reach our region. Between 35 to 50 percent of all associated service costs included in the rate adjustment are outside of Western’s control because they are related to the purchase and delivery of imported water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California or local supplies delivered through the City of Riverside’s system.
“Western serves an area where droughts are a regional reality, and securing local water supplies and maintaining critical infrastructure is vital to making sure our customers have a system they can rely on now and into the future. Unfortunately, during this pandemic we have seen increases in the cost to acquire our water supplies and we must keep pace with these cost increases,” said general manager Craig Miller.
The remaining costs are associated with the operation, maintenance and administration of Western’s local system made up of 776 miles of pipeline, 128 pumps, 38 water storage reservoirs, 24 lift stations, one water desalination facility and two wastewater treatment plants.
Western keeps costs as low as possible by improving business and operational efficiencies, adopting advanced asset management practices and seeking grant funding from local, state and federal programs.
Western has been working to enhance its grant procurement efforts—seeking grant funding to support critical projects. In the past five years, Western has been awarded more than $27 million to support major infrastructure improvements, regional partnerships and customer technology.
“This rate increase reflects our commitment to cost-conscious stewardship of Western’s water supply system. We’ve trimmed where we can, but inflation and other factors push costs higher as we maintain millions of dollars in assets while ensuring safe and reliable water supplies for future generations,” said assistant general manager/chief financial officer, Rod LeMond. “The agency has set a goal to stabilize rate increases over time to create the lowest impact on customer’s wallets, and these adjustments do just that.”
Western provides each customer with a water budget, billed at monthly tiered rates. Each customer’s monthly water budget supports efficient indoor and outdoor water use. When customers stay within their personalized water budget and take action to adjust irrigation seasonally, all customers benefit by receiving water that costs less to deliver.
With customers in mind during the COVID-19 global pandemic, we are continuing to suspend water shut-offs due to non-payment and have gone one step further by also suspending late payment fees. Western has also expanded payment assistance programming and are connecting customers to regional financial assistance, if eligible. Customers experiencing financial hardship are encouraged to contact Western’s Customer Service team Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 951.571.7104 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the new rates, visit wmwd.com/WaterRates.
Western Municipal Water District is one of the largest public agencies in Riverside County, providing water and wastewater (sewer) services to nearly a million people, both retail and wholesale customers who live, work and play within 527 square miles in one of California’s most populous regions. Learn more about Western by visiting, wmwd.com.