Visalia not included in Cal Water rates increase

As the California Water Service implements an interim rate increase for April, Visalia is not included in the rate change

VISALIA – With inflation affecting the cost of materials for infrastructure improvements, California Water Service implemented a rate increase for customers to fund the upgrade projects.

On Feb 15, California Water Service (Cal Water) was approved to raise their rates temporarily, which could result in a 4% increase to improve water infrastructure. This increase would affect all of their service areas, but luckily, it won’t affect Visalia since the company does not have interim increases in areas where less change is needed. They will be replacing main water lines, upgrading tanks and meters and much more.

Communications director Yvonne Kingsman said that the Cal Water rate increase was set in place in order to make infrastructure improvements intended to keep its systems “safe and reliable.” The rate increase for the district will go into effect on April 15 and was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), alongside the Administrative Law Judges (ALJ).

“We appreciate the ALJ’s understanding that inflation impacts Cal Water as well as our customers, and that withholding an interim rate increase could impact customers in the future by requiring higher surcharges on top of anticipated rate increases,” Martin A. Kropelnicki, Group President and CEO, said. “We are pleased that the CPUC acted to mitigate the impacts from a delayed decision.”

This raise was planned in Cal Water’s multi-year infrastructure improvement plan in order to supply  reliable and clean drinking water, Cal Water recognized the need to improve their current infrastructure. The typical customer uses almost 10,000 gallons of water per month, according to Cal Water’s proposal document. To maintain the system and improve infrastructure, there would have to be an increase of one cent per day, beginning in 2023, followed by an increase of 5 cents per day in 2024. 

“The upgrades for existing infrastructure is to make it last longer, or operate and work more efficiently,” Kingsman said. “[We plan] to retrofit tanks which helps extend the life of the tanks.”

Although Visalia won’t be part of the rate increase, they will still see benefits from it. The plan is to replace over 37,000 feet of main water lines in Visalia alone, which would mitigate pipe failure or aging. For the entire water district, including Visalia if needed, Cal Water will use these funds to improve water treatment and centers. Additionally, there will be pump, water meter and pressure tank replacements occurring throughout the district. There will also be a new well station constructed in order to meet fire needs.

Cal Water has provided service to Visalia residents since 1926, and offers several programs to assist customers in conserving water and saving water every day, according to the city of Visalia’s website. It currently offers eligible customers rebates on water conserving items like high efficiency toilets and laundry washers as well as smart sprinkler heads and timers. 

Cal Water is the largest, regulated American water provider in the state that, as a whole, provides drinking water and wastewater services to approximately 2 million people in 100 communities, according to the Cal Water website. It is the third largest water utility in the country and, additionally, Cal Water is the largest branch of the California Water Service Group, which includes Washington Water Service, New Mexico Water Service, Texas Water Service and Hawaii Water Service.

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