Water Rate Information

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Water Rates Structure

The City of Whittier is committed to maintaining critical infrastructure while efficiently providing safe, dependable water service in a cost effective manner to our residents and business customers.

Increased rates for water and recycled water services are necessary in order to cover rising costs from outside water regulatory agencies, as well as planned capital improvements to the water systems. The City’s former water rate structure was historically lopsided: a very small percentage of revenue was from the fixed service fee and the large majority was from variable consumption. This resulted in a number of issues, including a significant loss in revenues needed to keep pace with fixed maintenance costs, let alone making improvements to the system. Simply put, the City’s water revenues were not keeping up with the costs of overall service. It also meant that if a customer was very good at conserving, a behavior that should be encouraged, that customer’s rates were so low that other customers were subsidizing their share of the costs to maintain infrastructure.

The City has a Utility Authority, which is a separate financial system that operates the water system. The water fund is maintained separately because although city-wide resources have been invested in the water land and infrastructure over the last 60-100 years, the direct beneficiaries of the water system are only the Whittier water customers on the west side of town. The Whittier Utility Authority (WUA) was established to lease all of the City’s utility assets and operations. The assets leased by WUA belong to all residents of the City, but the services of the water system portion of WUA are generally only utilized by the residents on the west side of the City. WUA’s operations are accounted for separately and details of its financial transactions are presented separately in the WUA’s annual audit. Keeping the water costs separate ensures that general funds are not subsidizing the water system.

The Public Process for Setting Water Rates

In June of 2011, the City adopted an ordinance to adjust water service fees with an effective date of August 1, 2011. This followed a series of public announcements, direct mailers, published notices, a public hearing, media coverage, and posted information on the City’s website. The adjustment to the water rates increased service fees to cover budgeted expenditures and changed the water rate formula to reflect the actual fixed and variable costs, bringing the City in line with industry practice.

After a number of customers reported significant increases as a result of the new rates, City staff recommended that the City Council implement a gradual, phased increase in rates over a period of four years in order to help mitigate the impact. Since that time, the City Council has continued to evaluate the water rate structure regularly and taken a phased approach to making adjustments in order to provide the same level of service and make necessary repairs and improvements to our aging system.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are additional links that may be helpful in understanding the City’s water rates and services, as well as the most commonly asked questions staff receives pertaining to how water is managed. Staff will continue to update this page and share additional information regarding water rates and services over the coming months via our website and on social media.

Water General Info
Utility Rate Increase Info
Application to Reduce Meter Size
How to Read Your Bill

As a reminder, please report water emergencies during business hours by calling (562) 567-9530, or (562) 567-9200 after business hours.

FAQs

  • Who monitors the City’s progress on projects and reviews proposed actions related to water?
  • What is the Water Rate Study?
  • Has the City pursued state or federal funding to support the infrastructure improvements instead of increasing rates?
  • Has the City Council considered the impact that higher rates may have on residents with a fixed income?
  • Why do I have to pay a fixed service fee that benefits other people if I consume less water?
  • Why have I seen different billing units in various examples of the water rate structure?
  • Does my water bill pay for employee salaries?
  • Where does Whittier get its water from?
  • What does my water bill pay (and not pay) for?
  • What water projects are currently funded by the City?
  • How does consumption and conservation affect my water payments?
  • How does new development in the City of Whittier affect rates?
  • Why have I seen brown water from time to time? How does the City test water quality?
  • How do other cities compare?
More FAQs