Davis can raise its water rates to pay for the city’s Surface Water Project with neighboring Woodland, a Yolo Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday, thwarting a local lawsuit that alleged the rates were unconstitutional.
Opponents Yolo Ratepayers for Affordable Public Utility Services sued the city last year contending that water rates Davis residents had paid since 2010 and the water rate increases imposed to help pay for the water project unlawfully overcharged ratepayers.
The city uses a blended rate that has a fixed charge and a component based on use. In 2015, Davis will change its rate structure to one that also accounts for the cost of providing water to city users and the costs related to water supply and treatment.
The average water rate for a single-family home in the city had been about $35 a month, but rate hikes will triple that amount over the next five years.
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Judge Daniel Maguire, in a 19-page decision, said though the increases would affect ratepayers, the rate hikes passed constitutional muster and that the city had to balance residents’ burden with addressing the city’s water supply.
Davis Mayor Joe Krovoza said he “couldn’t be more pleased” with the ruling. “We knew (the rates) would be acceptable. The opponents held our feet to the fire and I respect them. We’re pleased that the court confirmed that the rates are acceptable.”
The tentative ruling means opponents have 15 days to respond. Michael Harrington, a Yolo Ratepayers spokesman, said he was disappointed at the ruling, but declined further comment pending the court’s final decision.
Davis draws its water from a network of aging wells.
Davis leaders approved rate hikes in March to fund the city’s share of the multimillion-dollar water project with Woodland to take in Sacramento River water to supplement groundwater.