New rate hike and fees for NMWD users

06/26/2014

North Marin Water District approved a rate hike on Tuesday, effective July 1, which will increase yearly water bills by about five percent, or $31 for the typical customer. The district says it needs to raise prices to help fund a $1.25 million project to make its West Marin water treatment plant more efficient. The sand filtration system, which removes iron and manganese from the district’s ground water that comes from Lagunitas Creek, must be backwashed to clean out the system and remove clumps that get trapped in the sand. “Essentially the sand plugs up,” said the district’s chief engineer, Drew McIntyre. But this backwashed water is currently released into the ground. A 100,000-gallon tank and pump system the district plans to build would allow it to store that water; the small particulates will settle to the bottom so they could recover an estimated 250,000 gallons of water a month. (The project is now at the end of the design phase.) The district is also planning to build a $500,000 concrete water tank on top of a hill in Paradise Ranch Estates. It’s postponed replacing a redwood tank destroyed in the Mount Vision fire, but can no longer defer it, officials say, citing emergency water needs. “[The new tank] will meet not so much the operational needs but the emergency needs. In an emergency, we can move the water quickly down the hill,” to other tanks, said David Bentley, the acting general manager while the manager is on vacation. The board on Tuesday also approved a “drought surcharge,” which will charge residential customers $2.50 for every 1,000 gallons of water that exceeds 200 gallons of water use per day during the mandatory water use restriction period that starts in July and requires a 25 percent decrease in use. (Customers already using less than 200 gallons a day are not required to make further reductions.) The district’s non-residential customers will pay an extra $2.50 per 1,000 for all water use. The surcharge is meant to cover the expected decline in revenue when less water is used during the drought, as well as the likely purchase of extra water from Marin Municipal Water District resulting from restrictions on NMWD’s water rights during dry summers.
— Samantha Kimmey