NID Directors approve lower water rate increases, move effective date back to July 1

April 25, 2019

In a much-deliberated move, the Nevada Irrigation District (NID) Board of Directors approved a softer water rate schedule than was initially proposed by the Cost of Service Study, reflecting the complex considerations around a fiscally responsible water service budget. Rate payers will only see a 5.72 percent increase across the board with a delayed effective date of July 1, 2019, showing the collaborative efforts between Directors to keep rates as low as possible for customers.

Several measures were negotiated as part of the new water rate to help lessen impacts for customers and allow the District to be flexible with the drought rate components, including:

  •  Instead of five years, the new rates will be enacted over three years
  • NID staff will develop a program, featuring $500,000 to assist low-income customers
  • A drought rate will be included, although it will not be assessed this year. In the future, Directors agreed they would provide relief to growers – details to come
  • A July 1 effective date provides a two-month period for customer education of rate changes
  • A new Cost of Service Study will be developed to include more detailed analysis of what the costs are to deliver water to raw and treated water customers.

Overall, the Board’s adopted rates reflect slightly more than a 17 percent increase over the next three years for customers. The original proposal was for an 89 percent increase over five years, which was calculated based on the Cost of Service Study recommendation for customers to meet 77 percent of the cost to deliver water. NID would have subsidized the remaining cost of service from transfers from Hydroelectric Division revenues, non-operating funds and earnings.

Directors noted that the lower rate increase requires the District to explore possible cost-saving measures to address the revenue impacts to the 2019 budget. In the coming months Directors will reduce the District’s 2019 budget by 5 percent or more and enact financial efficiency measures, while keeping the reliability, safety, and health of the water delivery system the top priority.

The Prop. 218 public hearing on Wednesday followed California’s Prop. 218 requirements, with unlimited public comment and an open, and transparent count of customer protest votes. Thirty-six people spoke during the three-hour meeting followed by a thorough count of customer protest votes. According to Prop 218, if NID received written protests by the majority of customers, it would need to abandon the proposed rate increase. The count, with the assistance of Nevada County employees and overseen by objective observers and news reporters, tallied 4,694 provisional protest votes, which fell short of the 12,500 required to nullify by proposed increase. All protest submissions currently are being validated, and results will be reported immediately after the completion.