Following is an Opinion-Editorial penned by Robert Marini from Milpitas’ Citizens Task Force on Water Rates, expressing his concerns about how the City charges residents for water, in terms of both process and amounts. A retort penned by Milpitas City Manager Julie Edmonds-Mares then follows…
The consultant Bartle Wells Associates claims Milpitas will lose 765,192 hundred cubic feet of water during the years 2018-19. Milpitas purchases water from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the Silicon Valley Water District, as per Table 3 on page 12 of this water supply study draft:
The difference between water purchased and water sold is defined as “water loss.” The water Milpitas will purchase in the years 2018-19 will be 4,222,077 HCF, and the amount estimated to be sold is 3,456,885, a difference of 765,192 HCF units, or 18.12 percent lost. Two years ago, the same consultant claimed a loss of 11%.
Tony Ndah, the city director of the Public Works Department, claims the residents will fall short of meeting the quantity of water contracted from the sources by 3.18%, and 15% will count as real water loss. But 15% of 4,222,077 HCF, the total water contracted, is 633,312 HCF, and 3.18 percent is 131,880 HCF.
Let’s look at the 633,312 HCF of water loss: Losing 633,312 HCF of water over 2018-19 is losing 1,297,855 gallons of water per day. One HCF equals 748 gallons of water. If the consultant is correct about its water loss claims, then either the City Works Department is incompetent or the water losses are exaggerated to increase fees. You cannot have it both ways.
Why would the consultant claim just a large loss of potable water? The more water losses, the higher the cost of water. An 18.12% water loss will increase the water fee by 22.19%. So claiming an 18.12% loss is a way to overcharge the city’s residents.
The city will also transfer $2.7 million from the water fund to the general fund, for so-called “services.”
As a member of the Water Rates Task Force, I was among those who asked, “Can you verify the time spent by personnel servicing the water infrastructure?”
The answer we got is: The city does not have a means of verifying time spent. The Water Rates Task Force recommended the city provide proof of time spent.
The City of Milpitas uses the water fund to subsidize the general fund. The amount allotted for salaries is 80% of the general fund.
I asked the city to give me the amount of actual water sold to the public for the year 2017, to provide a basis of water sold to the public. After waiting over four months, I still have not received an answer.
The California Public Records Act states that the city has 10 to 14 days to respond. I attended city council meetings and told them that I haven’t received the data in over four months, but the current city council claims they are open and transparent.
I disagree immensely with this claim.