It’s important that we take a strategic and objective look into the future and plan for our short-term and long-term capital requirements. It’s a prudent and appropriate measure of assessing our facilities’ overall health. Without that assessment, we will continue to fall behind in our ability to meet our existing water and wastewater obligations and to remain in compliance with state health standards. As a consequence, in 2010, the Town of Discovery Bay Community Services District commissioned Water and Wastewater Master Plans to assist the district in identifying its long-term capital needs. Those Master Plans provide a 10-year outlook and assisted in the development of the district’s current year’s budget.
The district’s long-term capital needs are substantial – some are driven by current conditions, while others are driven by projected future development. However, it’s important that we continue to meet existing obligations, which, at this time, we do not.
Title 22, a California Department of Health regulation, requires communities like Discovery Bay that use groundwater to have sufficient water capacity from its wells to meet the maximum daily demand (MDD) of the system with the highest-capacity well offline. Presently, the district’s water system has an existing deficit of 200 gallons per minute with the highest-capacity well offline.
As stated in the WMP, “the new supply well (Well 7) is needed for source capacity to meet the maximum day demand with the largest well offline.” The development of Well 7 will provide the necessary capacity to continue to meet existing obligations and into the future.
It’s a Catch-22: we need additional water capacity now, but Well 7 will also provide capacity for future development. However, that future development also includes additional storage tanks, water filters and other associated infrastructure, which are not proposed at this time.
The cost of those improvements and the proportionate cost of Well 7 will be paid by future development and not current ratepayers. Those improvements that can be strictly attributed to future development will be paid for by payment of “connection” or developer fees. Once those fees are paid, they offset the cost of any improvements put in place by the district, or go toward new infrastructure needs necessary for new development. New development needs to “pay their way.”
As a part of budget deliberations for the current fiscal year (2011-12), the district board took action to moderate the proposed rate increases and successfully cut 5 percent from the current year projected rate, reducing the projected blended (water and wastewater) from 22 percent to 17 percent rate increase for FY 2011-12. It’s also projected that the FY 2012-13 blended rates will increase another 18.4 percent, resulting in a two-year average of 17.4 percent. The average homeowner in Discovery Bay with a 5,000-10,000-square-foot parcel will see an increase of $138.36 this fiscal year ($11.53 per month) and $181.56 next fiscal year ($15.13 per month). We continue to have some of the lowest rates in the region, and we work tirelessly at keeping those rates at the lowest possible cost.
I hope this helps clear any misunderstandings relative to the proposed rate increases. If you seek additional information, please come to the next Town of Discovery Bay Community Services District Board meeting, where this subject will be discussed, on Wednesday, Aug. 3 at 7 p.m.