The Zone 7 Water Agency is set this week to kick off the first in a series of hearings that will examine and review wholesale water rates for the entire Tri-Valley.
The workshops and board meetings will be focused on reviewing wholesale water rates for 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026 to "ensure treated water rates keep pace with the increasing costs to provide safe, reliable water," according to a news release.
Starting on Wednesday (Aug. 31) at 6 p.m., the first workshop of the series will be a water supply evaluation that will have the agency's Board of Directors look at the long-term water reliability needs of the Tri-Valley and the respective financial impacts.
"The water supply evaluation is Zone 7's long-term water supply planning study," Osborn Solitei, treasurer and assistant general manager of finance at Zone 7, told the Weekly. "The last update in 2019 found that due to increases in population expected through buildout and due to declining reliability of the State Water Project, the Tri-Valley will need to invest in additional water supply and water supply reliability projects."
Solitei said that the 2019 study, which is currently being updated, will be presented at the first workshop next week and will illustrate findings that show the need for significant financial investments.
"The 2019 study also found that significant investments would be required and could cost $10 to $15 per month for the average monthly water bill," he said.
Water rates at the agency are set through a wholesale treated water rate study and public review process. According to the release, adjustments to the rates will be considered due to the rising costs of imported water, operations, maintenance, environmental and regulatory compliance.
Solitei said some of the projects the agency will be looking to invest in based on the 2019 study are the Sites Reservoir project, a $5.2 billion off-stream reservoir project to be built by the California Department of Water Resources in the Sacramento Valley and the Delta Conveyance Project.
The Delta Conveyance Project aims to improve the water delivery system of the State Water Project, with which Zone 7 is a contractor, through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Solitei said the 2019 study found that various combinations of these projects and others would improve Tri-Valley water supply reliability.
"As Zone 7 develops treated water rates for the next four years, it is important to educate the public on key drivers for those rates," he said.
Members of the public can attend any of the following public meetings to provide additional input:
* Aug. 31, 6 p.m., water supply evaluation workshop.
* Sept. 7, 6 p.m., board workshop (rates discussion).
* Sept. 21, 7 p.m., regular board meeting (rates discussion).
* Oct. 19, 7 p.m., regular board meeting (adoption of rates).