Palmdale Water District (PWD) is conducting the 2019 Rate Study with consultant Robert D. Niehaus, Inc. (RDN), who is analyzing financials to develop a water budget structure for years 2020-2024.
Every five years, PWD conducts a rate study that considers the costs of maintaining its infrastructure, new projects, water imports, staffing and anything else related to the District’s financial needs. The figures from the Rate Study will be used to determine water rates needed to maintain economic stability for the next five years. The suggested rate structure adjustments will be shared with the public in August at a Board meeting. Property owners and customers will receive a public notice in the mail.
All public water agencies must go through a similar process due to CA Proposition 218, which was passed in 1996 by California voters. It establishes the process by which public agencies can raise fees for services and ensures that any increase will not be more than what it costs to treat and deliver water to ratepayers homes.
The rate study process takes approximately six months to complete from start to finish. Before the rates for 2020-2024 are adopted, PWD customers will have an opportunity to attend an open house and community workshops scheduled:
Workshop for Elected Officials, Community Leaders & Water Ambassadors
Thursday, August 22
5:30-8 p.m. at PWD Board Room
Wednesday, August 28
5:30-8 p.m. at Palmdale Learning Plaza, 38043 Division Street, Palmdale
Saturday, September 7
9 a.m.- noon at Leslie O. Carter Water Treatment Plant 700 East Avenue S, Palmdale
*Required to sign-up in advance for a tour.
Tuesday, September 24
5:30-8 p.m. at Buena Vista Elementary School, 37005 Hillcrest Drive, Palmdale
*For more information, contact Public Affairs Specialist Laura Gallegos at email@example.com or call 661-441-5944.
Aerial Landscape Mapping Used to Improve Water Allocation for Customers in the 2019 Rate Study
As part of the 2019 Rate Study, PWD is using data from a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based aerial landscape mapping database to obtain actual square footage of customers’ outdoor water needs. Knowing the accurate outdoor landscape size of each parcel will allow better water allocation for customers.
PWD has contracted with Eagle Aerial Solutions for the Irrigated Vegetation Mapping Program, which has a 95%-plus accuracy rate for showing a parcel’s landscape make up. The map can identify structures, hardscapes, pools, irrigated landscaping and artificial turf.
The flights over Palmdale using four-band infrared imaging to gather information for the California Department of Water Resources were conducted in 2018. Using those same images, Eagle Aerial is generating detailed information for PWD residential parcels to use as part of the Rate Study. This helps ensure customers’ water allocations are accurate and equitable in the calculation of their water bills.
1. Why does PWD use a “water budget tiered” rate structure?
A water budget structure allows customers to know what an efficient allocation of water is from month to month. The allocation is based on the specific characteristics of each household. This rate design has been proven by university studies to be more fair and transparent to customers and shows the charges for the actual costs to purchase, pump, treat and deliver water.
2. How is my water budget, or allocation, determined?
Each customer’s allocation is based on the number of people in the residence, the size of the irrigable outdoor landscape, weather, and efficiency standards for indoor and outdoor use adopted by the state of California. Allocations change with the weather, and PWD customers can request water allocation variances for additional residents, medical needs, horses, etc.
3. How can I get more information about the 2019 Rate Study?
PWD will be holding community workshops to share more information and answer questions before a public hearing in the fall.