Milpitas’ water and sewer rates are due for an increase, and City Staff have been out in the community, informing the public on the proposed adjustments.

Currently, Milpitas gets its water from 3 different suppliers: the San Francisco Public Utility Commission, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, and South Bay Water Recycling.

Though he’s aware of the fact that an increase in costs is something that residents never like to hear about, Milpitas Public Works Director Tony Ndah has been looking at the numbers, and factoring in the ramifications of not raising the rates…

“Our wholesale water suppliers have increased the cost to buy the water,” said Ndah. “And we stand to lose over $2 million at the end of our fiscal year, because we’re spending more than what we’re taking in, for the system.”

Total water operating expenses for this current fiscal year come in at $28.5 million, $18.1 million of which goes toward purchasing the water. Based on current water rates, the City expects to only collect around $25 or $26 million from the sale of water by the end of the fiscal year, which would put them in the red.

Meanwhile, Milpitas’ water infrastructure system is getting older and older, with many water pipelines in need of replacement. A cost increase would help to maintain the system’s efficiency.

Water rates in the city have remained the same for over 2 years, as the last adjustment happened in April, 2016.

The reason for the lack of adjustments can be traced back to a 2015 court ruling pertaining to San Juan Capistrano, in which San Juan Capistrano’s tiered water system was ruled as unconstitutional, as the rate being charged was more than the cost of the service. At the time, many agencies were unable to justify their tiered rate breakdowns, so cities started switching to uniform rates. Milpitas, to be on the safe side, made the shift too. In the meantime, the City knew that a thorough study of the water system had to be conducted to determine their next move. ‘Til then, all changes and adjustments were halted.

Back in January, 2016, the Milpitas City Council created a Water Rates Task Force, comprised of various residents tasked with learning about the water system. The goal was for them to come up with proposals on the water rate structure, for Council’s consideration. After the Task Force conducted their assessment, City Staff, at the direction of the Council, moved forward to craft a Water Rates Study and also to determine just how much rates needed to be raised.

On a related front, the City of Milpitas currently contracts with the City of San Jose to provide sewage treatment services to Milpitas residents and businesses. At present, San Jose’s 50-year-old wastewater treatment facility is in need of reconstruction. As Milpitas is required to help foot a share of the reconstruction costs, the City’s increasing sewer rates, as well.

The average single family residential customer will see their water bill go up by approximately $3.52 each month, while their sewer bill will increase by $3.67 a month.

For any residents who wish to learn more about the proposed rate adjustments, and/or to ask questions, 2 upcoming meetings apply:

One’s tonight — Wednesday, January 23, 2019 — at the San Jose City College Extension in Milpitas (1450 Escuela Parkway) from 6pm-8pm. (This one is also being hosted by the Sunnyhills Neighborhood Association.)

The other’s tomorrow — Thursday, January 24, 2019 — at the Community Center (457 E Calaveras Blvd.) from 6pm-8pm.

A Public Hearing on the proposed rate adjustments will also take place at Milpitas City Hall on February 5, 2019.

To get more information, go here.


Rhoda Shapiro
Rhoda Shapiro works as a journalist and media consultant in the Bay Area. She has written for both the Tri-City Voice and the Mercury News, and is the founder of Chi Media Company, which works with nonprofit organizations to elevate their marketing and communication platforms. Rhoda is also an author; her first book will be published by Llewellyn Worldwide in mid-2019. Her YouTube channel, which features practices in yoga, meditation, and women’s empowerment, has amassed thousands of subscribers. Rhoda is The Milpitas Beat’s founder.

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