The Coastside County Water District on Tuesday was expected to pass new fees and rates designed to incentivize water conservation and make up for lost revenue during the ongoing drought. The meeting, which occurred after the Review’s print deadline, underscored the need to reduce water use during the statewide drought.

The board was set to review an amendment to the district’s rate and fee structure by adding so-called Water Shortage Contingency Stage Rates. The move gives the district the discretion during a drought to raise water prices proportional to current water shortages by a percentage of customers’ bills. If approved, the rates will be added to the district’s policy as soon as today, but won’t necessarily go into effect right away, as the board can start the new pay structure when it declares a water shortage.

The plan is meant to get customers to save water, and those who reduce water use by the recommended amount will not see their bill increase. However, those who use water at their current rate will then see their bill increase proportionally.

These new rates are also a way for the district to offset lost revenue by ensuring it won’t have to use reserves or delay capital investments. When customers conserve during droughts, they would normally pay less to the district, however the costs to pump and maintain the system are still constant for the district.

On Tuesday, the board also weighed implementing a new clause for San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Pass-Through Wholesale Water Shortage Rates. If approved, the district would pass along increases from the SFPUC during a declared shortage. According to a district staff report, the share of the pass-through charge will be based on the direct proportion of how much SFPUC water is purchased to meet demand versus how much water is locally sourced.

August Howell is a staff writer for the Review covering city government and public safety. Previously, he was the Review’s community, arts and sports reporter. He studied journalism at the University of Oregon.

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