Sewer rates vs. water rates: There’s no comparison (October 26, 2015)

According to a recent ad from the Town of Apple Valley, their recent increase in sewer rates is tiny in comparison to increases in water rates. In fact, just the opposite is true.

The ad says that the Town’s sewer rates went up by $4.00. This is deceptive on several counts.

Actual sewer rate increase
June-July 2015 $62.86
August-September 2015 $70.08
Increase amount $7.22
Increase percentage 11.48%

To start with, the $4.00 amount is per month, not per billing cycle.

The ad also asks how much our water bill went up. The answer is: It hasn’t. It has been going down … for ten straight months (five billing cycles).


As you can see, there is no comparison in historical bills, but not for the reason the Town implies. The Town’s sewer rate increase far exceeds our recent water bill decreases.

Note, though, that the Town is asking you to compare their per-month sewer rate increase to your two-month water bill.

First, there is no correlation between a per-month sewer rate increase and a two-month water bill increase, because the water bill increase could come from increased water usage, or drought surcharges. Second, this proposed comparison essentially halves the effect of the Town’s sewer rate increase. This attempt to promote a false comparison seems to be an admission by the Town that it realizes its rate increase is much higher than they say it is, to the point where it cannot be compared head-to-head with water rates.

But what about the proposed water rate increases? According to the CPUC, an average residential customer that achieves the conservation goals set by the Governor’s Executive Order will see its [bi-monthly] bill increase by $3.41. This is less than half of the $7.22 sewer rate increase.

Finally, the ad urges everyone to get the facts about community ownership of our water system. I would urge everyone first to get the facts about community ownership.

Greg Raven is Co-Chair of Apple Valley Citizens for Government Accountability, and is concerned about quality of life issues.