20 June 2003
City Council voices opposition to water rate hike proposal
By JANNISE JOHNSON, Staff Writer
FONTANA - To say Mayor Mark Nuaimi and the other four members of
the Fontana City Council are unhappy with the rate hike that has
been proposed for the last several months by the San Gabriel Valley
Water Company would be putting it lightly.
are so displeased with the proposed rate hike, in fact, that they
unanimously passed a resolution to oppose it at this week's City
a staff report on the item Tuesday night, Curtis Aaron, public services
director for the city, told the council he doesn't think the water
district has checked into all the options available.
believe Fontana Water Company has alternatives that they have not
exercised,' he said.
Fontana Water Co. is proposing to raise water rates about 40 percent
this year and a combined 20 percent in the subsequent three years
to pay for treatment of wells contaminated with perchlorate, according
to information from the company.
cost to remove perchlorate is $1.5 million to $2 million per well,
plus an additional $500,000 to $600,000 in annual operations and
maintenance per well.
cost is expected to be passed onto the consumer, a move council
members say could ultimately put some of the city's landscape districts
at aesthetic risk and possibly make some business owners and potential
homebuyers think twice about calling Fontana home.
Acquanetta Warren said she and councilman John Roberts have been
working on a subcommittee for the past six weeks to figure out a
strategy to approach the Public Utilities Commission in September
to express the city's opposition to the rate hike.
was ridiculously proposed,' Warren said. "So we decided to
say something officially,' she said, referring to the adopted resolution.
said it's impossible to tell what the consequences to the city would
be should the Public Utilities Commission approve the increased
rates. But there will be consequences, he said.
going to have a tremendous impact on not only the residents but
the city as well,' he said. "It's going to be a significant
don't believe the ratepayers should be held responsible for the
cleanup issue. That's something they had no part in creating,' Roberts
Whitehead, president of the San Gabriel Valley Water Company, which
owns the Fontana Water Co., responded to the criticism Thursday
by saying his company has "examined all our options.'
is a fact that perchlorate contamination in Fontana and Rialto is
widespread,' he said. "In order to restore those water supplies
it's going to cost millions of dollars and that's a very costly
Whitehead said the company is adamant about pursuing the original
polluters aggressively and making them take fiscal responsibility
for the cleanup. Once it has recovered the cost from the polluters,
the company will then pass it back to the ratepayers in the form
of reduced water cost.
the PUC approves the rate hike in September, Councilwoman Janice
Rutherford said residents in planned communities throughout the
city may end up paying an aesthetic cost.
in Community Facilities Districts pay a yearly tax which is put
toward landscape upkeep, she said.
order to cover a cost increase, that tax might have to be raised,
a move that requires approval from voters.
they vote such a proposal down, then the city will have to cut services,
which could possibly result in a lot of dead grass and brown landscaping.