Santa Clara

South Bay Water Users Feel Betrayed by Rate Hike

After many residents in the South Bay conserved water during the years-long drought, their reward is coming in the form of a higher water bill.

Santa Clara Valley Water District and San Jose Water Co. customers are not happy after learning their rates will be going up soon. The agencies say it's a matter of growth and dollars and cents.

But while water officials say it's a necessary business expense, some customers feel betrayed.

"It just keeps going up it seems like, and I thought the drought's over," one customer said. "I was hoping it would go down, not up."

The average bill, according to San Jose Water, will go up by $3.67, regardless of how much water customers saved.

"So they're basically reverse-incentivizing people," another customer said. "Next time the governor would like to see the water conserved, people are not gonna comply because they'll be penalized for it."

The water district says the rate hike, which will affect about 230,000 customers, is necessary because its wholesale water rate is going up and because of new infrastructure projects.

"We need to plan for that future, make sure we have a reliable water supply for the future," district spokesman Marty Grimes said. "Our existing infrastructure, like our dams and water treatment plant, are providing constant reliable service everyone depends on."

The water district says such plans focus on the long term, no matter how much water customers have or save each year.

The Anderson Dam retrofit project, for example, will cost somewhere around $450 million, according to the water district.

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