The City of Fullerton is committed to providing safe, reliable, and affordable drinking water to more than 144,000 residents and the businesses we serve. The City operates more than 420 miles of pipe, maintains 67.5 million gallons of storage, monitors more than 100 compounds by taking 4,000 samples annually, and supplies over 8 billion gallons of water annually.
The City manages all of this with a deteriorating system that has aged beyond its useful service life. Most of these pipes and facilities were installed in the 1950s and 1960s with the oldest pipe dating back to 1914. Because of the age and deterioration of the system, City staff repairs an average of 100 pipeline breaks per year which are highly disruptive to our customers. Additionally, staff responds to and fixes multiple well and pump failures every year.
Why do a Water Rate Study?
The last water rate study was completed in 2013 and included a phased five-year rate increase ending in Fiscal Year 2017-18. The programmed water rates were designed to meet anticipated maintenance and operation costs while providing sufficient funding for water system related upgrades and replacement projects. However, many of the revenue and expenditure estimates included in the 2013 study were based on usage data from 2011 and 2012. Since the previous water rate study, the City has seen water usage decrease considerably in large part due to the historic drought and state-mandated conservation measures. The decrease in water usage resulted in loss of revenue and consequently, less funding available for infrastructure improvement projects.
As a public water provider, the City can only charge its customers for the costs associated with providing water service; the City cannot earn a profit. When determining the proposed water rates, the City prioritizes:
Treating all customers fairly and proportioning rates equitably
Reflecting the true cost of service
Maintaining legal defensibility
Protecting the water system’s financial stability and its ability to provide high-level service
Maintaining, upgrading and fixing aging pipelines, wells, pump stations, reservoirs, etc.
The proposed water rates recommended by the Water Rate Study Ad Hoc Committee and results of the study are included in the “Draft Water Rate Study” report and “Water Rate Study Recommendation” presentation, which were provided to City Council on April 2, 2019.
City staff worked with a Water Rate Study Ad Hoc Committee (made up of six at-large Fullerton residents that served on the Energy and Resource Management Committee and the Citizens’ Infrastructure Review Committee) to review the water system, its funding, and evaluate multiple alternative capital improvement program (CIP) project schedules. These CIP alternatives were studied with the goal of balancing the need to address critical pipeline and well replacement while minimizing water rate increases.
Eight Ad Hoc Committee meetings were held from August 2018 through March 2019. The public was invited to attend all meetings including an evening meeting held on December 5, 2018 to allow for more public input.
To protest the proposed rate increase, written protests must be received by no later than the close of the public hearing on June 4, 2019. Written protests may be submitted via mail or hand-delivered to:
City of Fullerton Public Works
Attention: Meg McWade, City Hall
Re: Public Hearing on the Proposed Water Rate Increase
303 W. Commonwealth Avenue
Fullerton, CA 92832
Please identify on the front of the envelope for any protest, whether mailed or submitted in person, that the enclosed protest is for the Public Hearing on the Proposed Water Rate Increase. Protests will also be accepted via electronic mail (e-mail) at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each protest must identify the affected property (by assessor’s parcel number or street address), indicate that the identified property owner or tenant is opposed to the proposed rate increase, and include the name and signature of the record property owner or tenant, as applicable. Each parcel may submit no more than one written protest per rate action. Protests received by telephone or social media sites, including but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or myFullerton will NOT be accepted. All interested parties are invited to attend the public hearing and present written protests and/or written/oral comments on the proposed rate increase. However, oral comments at the public hearing will not qualify as a formal protest of the proposed rate action unless accompanied by a written protest setting forth the required information. If written protests are received from a majority of the owners/tenants directly liable for payment of water services, the proposed rate increases will not be implemented.