Hefty water rate hike proposed for San Jose

April 16, 2012 4:59:00 PM PDT
San Jose residents who don't read the fine print in their water bill should be prepared for sticker shock next year. The water company which serves most of the city's residents is proposing a hefty double-digit rate increase.

The San Jose Water Company wants to increase water rates more than 21 percent next year and by 44 percent over the next three years. That would take the average residential bill each month from $65 to $93.

The water company says it isn't alone in seeking significant rate increases.

"Water utilities throughout the United States are grappling with this -- making an effort to keep rates as low as possible but needing to maintain their infrastructure," said Bob Day, director of customer service at the San Jose Water Company.

Much of the proposed rate increase is to fix the aging water system, but that's not the only explanation behind the hike.

Ironically the company also points to water conservation to justify the increase, saying sales are down and the costs required to provide safe and reliable service remain the same.

The rationale is logical but hard to accept.

"I try to conserve and help the planet and now I have to pay more money for it. It's not fair," said San Jose Water Company customer Vanessa Singh.

Some people are also questioning why the company CEO makes more than $625,000 a year. If customers want to speak out, there is a public hearing scheduled for May 21.

Jon Cornelius is already resigned to just paying more. "I don't see any way around it. The costs go up, and even if you protest, the costs are the costs," he said.

The California Public Utilities Commission is expected make a decision on the rate proposal this fall.


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