City of Davis Getting Water-Jacked on Multiple Angles

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Is Council Finally Having Serious Concerns About the Cost of the Wastewater Project?

At some point it would probably benefit everyone to go back through the records and look at the increases in the estimated cost of the wastewater treatment plant upgrade. I believe that since early last year when I first took note of the wastewater project the estimated cost of the project has risen from around $150 million to over $200 million.

Finally, the city council is taking a serious look at ways to reduce the costs. The real question is why has it taken so long? But at least now the council is looking into the costs.

It also seems that the city is finally taking the advice of Councilmember Sue Greenwald and consulting with local water experts to see if there are other ways to make this happen.

Of course, Mayor Pro Tem Don Saylor had to dissent on that vote, claiming he was uncomfortable with the process that involved naming individuals who could assist the city. He preferred a more general call for help from interested individuals. That is not surprising given his strong ties with consultants West Yest and Associates who have been contracted to work on this project.

Councilmember Sue Greenwald has always maintained that she has contact with water experts who could assist in this program. However, she has never been willing to name them and to be proactive in recruiting them. This has even led some of her supporters to become frustrated.

However with that issue aside, she has been the strongest advocate for looking at different ways to do both this project and the water supply project which figures to be at least as expensive.

The city has officially until October 1, 2015 to comply with stricter water discharge standards.

Councilmember Stephen Souza suggested that a delay in the project would be worth it if it ended up leading to cost savings for the city. On the other hand, Public Works Director Bob Weir was more reluctant to do so. At one point suggesting that this project was the only certain way to meet new tougher requirements.

My favorite part of this however were the remarks by Councilmember Don Saylor who contacted The Enterprise after the fact.

Councilman Don Saylor told The Enterprise today that his intention with having Emlen continue to work with the project designers while also researching other options was to meet the state’s compliance timeline while also making sure the project is the best fit.

‘There’s a high likelihood that the majority of the project design will remain intact,’ he said. ‘And so we don’t want to lose ground on the progress. …

‘However, it’s important that we are extremely confident that we do as much value engineering, cost reduction as is warranted’ and carefully consider alternatives.

Value engineering? Is that some nuanced political doublespeak?

If left up to Mr. Saylor, the city would be spending exactly what the estimate says. The process has been altered by the continued outspokeness of some of his colleagues like Councilmember Greenwald who has from day one asserted that this project is entirely too expensive and we should be looking for alternative ways. Mr. Saylor has rejected and failed to consider those warnings until now, and even now, he voted against the project.

He wants to sound reasonable and diplomatic here, but he has taken absolutely no leadership on this issue. Now he plays catch up with some well-rehearsed double speak about “value engineering” and “cost reduction” all the while giving the same tired line about not wanting to “lose ground on the progress.”

What progress is that? Forcing through an expensive construction project that will likely double people’s sewer rates?

This discussion on Tuesday followed an interesting discussion on existing sewer rates that have been recalibrated to a formula that was poorly explained to the public. Now a good number of people in the public have seen their water rates skyrocket in the last few months using the new system because unbeknownst to them their rates are being calculated using an entirely different methodology.

A member of the public came before public comment and wanted to know why his sewer rates had jumped so much. It turns out there was an item on the consent agenda that related to this.

The methodology has changed from a flat rate to an actual consumption of water during the winter months. There were a little over one thousand people that had excessive rates of charges based on the new methodology.

This happened because a large number of people were not aware that come August 1, their bill would be based on their average consumption rather than the previous flat rate.

I know on this blog the issue has been asked by a few people at least who were surprised by the sharp increase of their water bills. Obviously 1000 people is a small number compared to the total population of the city, but it seems once again that the city somehow failed to convey to people exactly how and when the water rate methodology would change.

Leak detection and water usage in the wintertime are now critical for people to pay attention to.

Here is my concern–listening to the questions posed to Bob Weir by Stephen Souza, Mr. Weir seemed very defensive. The issue is not water usage here, but sewer usage. And yet the metering that they are doing is for water usage. So as Mr. Souza pointed out at one point, there are people who garden year round, that means they are using water during the winter for their gardening. Well if they are using water for their gardening, then the water is not going into the sewers.

Mr. Weir’s response?

“Well, we will continue to refine what we are looking at. This is meant to get us obviously a stop gap measure. Then as we look at the 09-10 rates, perfect this, what is the best we can do in terms of what is the wintertime usage of water…”

Did Bob Weir say anything here? Actually I think he said a lot. He’s basically admitting that the system is not doing what it is supposed to be doing. It is certainly not measuring sewer usage but rather water usage. Moreover, he is basically admitting that they put a system into place that is costing people a lot of money and they did this as a stopgap measure that has flaws.

Again, the money that they are playing with is not their own money, but that of the public. And yet Bob Weir hardly seemed concerned.

Bob Weir also mentioned that while there was a lot of publicity about these changes, however, “no matter what you do, some people aren’t going to get that message.” You can miss the committee meetings, miss the Prop. 218 notice, miss the “Utility Connection,” or “see it and not have it register.”

Are these means of communication sufficient? I think when you are dealing with something of this magnitude, we could be talking about hundreds of dollars per month that many people just cannot afford, the city has to do more. If 10 percent of the public reads the “Utility Connection” I would be stunned.

I have to belabor this point here because I do not think the city does an adequate job of notification. There was a suggestion that they should have done a concurrent sample price scale for a period of time. What that would mean, is that there would be a line in your current sewer bill that said: “your current bill is… ” And then the next line would demonstrate their monthly bill using the new methodology. People may still miss that, but for a lot of people that would have been a wake up call.

But the problem is that they think of these things after the fact. The city always seems to be a step behind in their methods of communication and they also seem to make costly changes first and ask questions and resolve it later. Again, the people who suffer from this approach are the ratepayers.

In my opinion, there is a time bomb being lit in this city. For the amount of complaining on this blog on a relatively modest $120 per year increase to keep programs and teachers at Davis Joint Unified for school children, the rate increases from water alone will dwarf that. Just from this methodology change a person could pay more than ten-fold extra per year if they were caught off guard and were one of the unfortunate souls that did not see the city’s attempts at communication.

The city council has dragged its feet on these issues and finally is waking up to the fact that the water treatment plant will cost more than they anticipated–which was already way too high for a lot of the residents in Davis.

I am really glad that the city is not taking seriously the prospect of “value engineering” and “cost reduction.” To me it seems lip service for being a day late and hundreds of millions of dollars too short.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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64 thoughts on “City of Davis Getting Water-Jacked on Multiple Angles”

  1. concerned about water rates

    I was suspect when West Yost & Associates was pictured with Saylor at his fundraiser on the front page of the Enterprise knowing that they stand to be the recipients of millions of dollars from the city.

    It's no wonder he is so loyal to them.

    He should recuse himself from all discussions on this issue.

  2. concerned about water rates

    I was suspect when West Yost & Associates was pictured with Saylor at his fundraiser on the front page of the Enterprise knowing that they stand to be the recipients of millions of dollars from the city.

    It's no wonder he is so loyal to them.

    He should recuse himself from all discussions on this issue.

  3. concerned about water rates

    I was suspect when West Yost & Associates was pictured with Saylor at his fundraiser on the front page of the Enterprise knowing that they stand to be the recipients of millions of dollars from the city.

    It's no wonder he is so loyal to them.

    He should recuse himself from all discussions on this issue.

  4. concerned about water rates

    I was suspect when West Yost & Associates was pictured with Saylor at his fundraiser on the front page of the Enterprise knowing that they stand to be the recipients of millions of dollars from the city.

    It's no wonder he is so loyal to them.

    He should recuse himself from all discussions on this issue.

  5. Matt McPherson

    Doug,

    No doubt others will do a better job of clarifying, but “value engineering” is a legitimate bit of engineering jargon. Think of it along the lines “marginal analysis” in finance or “best bang for the buck” in military. It’s a nice concept and consultants like to talk about it, but in my experience it seldom plays a big role in project planning.

    I don’t know Mr. Weir and don’t mean to be defending him, but you might also cut him some slack regarding how to determine sewer usage. It’s not exactly my sub-discipline, but as a civil engineer I’m not aware of any mainstream wastewater meters suitable for use at a single-family home. Such devices exist for industrial applications, but it would be experimental technology on our houses. Mr. Weir focuses on the inflow to the house as the best available proxy for measuring its sewer contribution. You can easily point out dozens of flaws in that assumption, but afaik its a pretty expensive and uncertain business to try to measure it.

  6. Matt McPherson

    Doug,

    No doubt others will do a better job of clarifying, but “value engineering” is a legitimate bit of engineering jargon. Think of it along the lines “marginal analysis” in finance or “best bang for the buck” in military. It’s a nice concept and consultants like to talk about it, but in my experience it seldom plays a big role in project planning.

    I don’t know Mr. Weir and don’t mean to be defending him, but you might also cut him some slack regarding how to determine sewer usage. It’s not exactly my sub-discipline, but as a civil engineer I’m not aware of any mainstream wastewater meters suitable for use at a single-family home. Such devices exist for industrial applications, but it would be experimental technology on our houses. Mr. Weir focuses on the inflow to the house as the best available proxy for measuring its sewer contribution. You can easily point out dozens of flaws in that assumption, but afaik its a pretty expensive and uncertain business to try to measure it.

  7. Matt McPherson

    Doug,

    No doubt others will do a better job of clarifying, but “value engineering” is a legitimate bit of engineering jargon. Think of it along the lines “marginal analysis” in finance or “best bang for the buck” in military. It’s a nice concept and consultants like to talk about it, but in my experience it seldom plays a big role in project planning.

    I don’t know Mr. Weir and don’t mean to be defending him, but you might also cut him some slack regarding how to determine sewer usage. It’s not exactly my sub-discipline, but as a civil engineer I’m not aware of any mainstream wastewater meters suitable for use at a single-family home. Such devices exist for industrial applications, but it would be experimental technology on our houses. Mr. Weir focuses on the inflow to the house as the best available proxy for measuring its sewer contribution. You can easily point out dozens of flaws in that assumption, but afaik its a pretty expensive and uncertain business to try to measure it.

  8. Matt McPherson

    Doug,

    No doubt others will do a better job of clarifying, but “value engineering” is a legitimate bit of engineering jargon. Think of it along the lines “marginal analysis” in finance or “best bang for the buck” in military. It’s a nice concept and consultants like to talk about it, but in my experience it seldom plays a big role in project planning.

    I don’t know Mr. Weir and don’t mean to be defending him, but you might also cut him some slack regarding how to determine sewer usage. It’s not exactly my sub-discipline, but as a civil engineer I’m not aware of any mainstream wastewater meters suitable for use at a single-family home. Such devices exist for industrial applications, but it would be experimental technology on our houses. Mr. Weir focuses on the inflow to the house as the best available proxy for measuring its sewer contribution. You can easily point out dozens of flaws in that assumption, but afaik its a pretty expensive and uncertain business to try to measure it.

  9. Nancy Price

    The City Council should consult with the Town of Petaluma. After years of debate, the City finally rejected an expensive private corporate project and decided to build their own project at much less cost, keep the project under local, democratic public ownership and control, and it inlcudes a very effective wetlands for treating grey water for use in landscaping and other suitable purposes.

  10. Nancy Price

    The City Council should consult with the Town of Petaluma. After years of debate, the City finally rejected an expensive private corporate project and decided to build their own project at much less cost, keep the project under local, democratic public ownership and control, and it inlcudes a very effective wetlands for treating grey water for use in landscaping and other suitable purposes.

  11. Nancy Price

    The City Council should consult with the Town of Petaluma. After years of debate, the City finally rejected an expensive private corporate project and decided to build their own project at much less cost, keep the project under local, democratic public ownership and control, and it inlcudes a very effective wetlands for treating grey water for use in landscaping and other suitable purposes.

  12. Nancy Price

    The City Council should consult with the Town of Petaluma. After years of debate, the City finally rejected an expensive private corporate project and decided to build their own project at much less cost, keep the project under local, democratic public ownership and control, and it inlcudes a very effective wetlands for treating grey water for use in landscaping and other suitable purposes.

  13. Doug Paul Davis

    Matt:

    I appreciate your comments and also your insight.

    With regard to “value engineering” there is no doubt that it’s legit jargon, I actually googled it before I did the story and found a lot of interesting tidbits. That was part of my point. To me his comments were just that–jargon meant to assuage people. The lack of concern until now by some of the council is alarming.

    I also understand your point about Bob Weir. I do think it’s a difficult problem, but there is a pattern in this city that difficult problems get raised after the fact and after people take a huge hit. I think there were better ways to do this even taking into account the impossibility of using such metering devices.

    I think both forewarning people what their future bill would look like and phasing in the changes would have been an improvement. People hate above all to be caught off guard, I think people would accept a suboptimal methodology as long as they knew it was coming. Just my belief though on that subject.

  14. Doug Paul Davis

    Matt:

    I appreciate your comments and also your insight.

    With regard to “value engineering” there is no doubt that it’s legit jargon, I actually googled it before I did the story and found a lot of interesting tidbits. That was part of my point. To me his comments were just that–jargon meant to assuage people. The lack of concern until now by some of the council is alarming.

    I also understand your point about Bob Weir. I do think it’s a difficult problem, but there is a pattern in this city that difficult problems get raised after the fact and after people take a huge hit. I think there were better ways to do this even taking into account the impossibility of using such metering devices.

    I think both forewarning people what their future bill would look like and phasing in the changes would have been an improvement. People hate above all to be caught off guard, I think people would accept a suboptimal methodology as long as they knew it was coming. Just my belief though on that subject.

  15. Doug Paul Davis

    Matt:

    I appreciate your comments and also your insight.

    With regard to “value engineering” there is no doubt that it’s legit jargon, I actually googled it before I did the story and found a lot of interesting tidbits. That was part of my point. To me his comments were just that–jargon meant to assuage people. The lack of concern until now by some of the council is alarming.

    I also understand your point about Bob Weir. I do think it’s a difficult problem, but there is a pattern in this city that difficult problems get raised after the fact and after people take a huge hit. I think there were better ways to do this even taking into account the impossibility of using such metering devices.

    I think both forewarning people what their future bill would look like and phasing in the changes would have been an improvement. People hate above all to be caught off guard, I think people would accept a suboptimal methodology as long as they knew it was coming. Just my belief though on that subject.

  16. Doug Paul Davis

    Matt:

    I appreciate your comments and also your insight.

    With regard to “value engineering” there is no doubt that it’s legit jargon, I actually googled it before I did the story and found a lot of interesting tidbits. That was part of my point. To me his comments were just that–jargon meant to assuage people. The lack of concern until now by some of the council is alarming.

    I also understand your point about Bob Weir. I do think it’s a difficult problem, but there is a pattern in this city that difficult problems get raised after the fact and after people take a huge hit. I think there were better ways to do this even taking into account the impossibility of using such metering devices.

    I think both forewarning people what their future bill would look like and phasing in the changes would have been an improvement. People hate above all to be caught off guard, I think people would accept a suboptimal methodology as long as they knew it was coming. Just my belief though on that subject.

  17. Elaine Roberts Musser

    The Davis Senior Citizens Commission has known this was coming for about two years. We have had Bob Wier come and talk to us about the projected sewer rate increases at length. (He has been extremely cooperative and professional at all times.) As a commission, we raised the issue of cost, and suggested a consumption based rate would be better than a flat rate – because it would encourage conservation, and allow seniors living alone in a home a way to save money as compared to a family of four. We were also made aware of how costly this project was going to be, and given estimates of the increase in costs to our sewer rates (more on that in a second).

    There has been repeated notification on this subject in various ways. I’m not sure what else the city could have done to notify folks this was coming. Bob Weir has made many, many public education attempts in various ways, so you would have to explain to me what wasn’t done that you think should have been done.

    However, the city itself (and who in the city that is responsible for this I don’t know) has misled the public in one respect, and that is on your monthly City of Davis bill. Everyone is complaining all of the sudden, and this increase in sewer fees has finally registered, because of the huge fee hikes that hit in August.

    However, in small print your city services bill reads as follows: “This bill reflects rate increases effective August 1, 2008 for Sanitary Sewer, Drainage and Sanitation. Rate increases are as follows: Drainage 3%, Sanitary Sewer 4% and Sanitation 3.5%…”

    No where in this statement does it note that your fee is based on new consumption based rates calculated differently than the old flat rate. Looking at the above statement, one figures at most their sewer bill will increase by 3% + 4% + 3.5% = 10.5%. Yet my sewer fee went from $79.30 per two months to a whopping $198.38 per two months. That is an increase of 250% in one year! Now it turns out I had a sprinkler leak I was unaware of, which could explain part of this increase, but based on what I am hearing, sewer rates have gone through the roof for everyone.

    I took the trouble to pull out a Sewer Project Draft Report Rate Study, dated Dec 29, 2006, given to our commission. There is a chart in there that talks about projected residential rate increases and percent increases. It states (assuming I am reading the chart correctly) if a single family residence has a current monthly rate of $35, then by year 2011-2012 the rate would increase to about $50 – a modest 6% increase each year, or 30% increase in total over a 6 year period.

    Something has gone very haywire here, and I am not certain what has happened. But it is imperative that the City Council take a look, especially in light of what water rates we may be facing in the future, if the water project is implemented at the same time as the sewer project.

    I would also be interested to hear from other readers of this blog, to find out what increases in their sewer rates they have experienced. We need anecdotal input – enough to push for an investigation if it is warranted. I don’t want to get into the blame game particularly, but do want to find out why the sewer rates seem so out of line with what we were originally told at our commission meetings.

  18. Elaine Roberts Musser

    The Davis Senior Citizens Commission has known this was coming for about two years. We have had Bob Wier come and talk to us about the projected sewer rate increases at length. (He has been extremely cooperative and professional at all times.) As a commission, we raised the issue of cost, and suggested a consumption based rate would be better than a flat rate – because it would encourage conservation, and allow seniors living alone in a home a way to save money as compared to a family of four. We were also made aware of how costly this project was going to be, and given estimates of the increase in costs to our sewer rates (more on that in a second).

    There has been repeated notification on this subject in various ways. I’m not sure what else the city could have done to notify folks this was coming. Bob Weir has made many, many public education attempts in various ways, so you would have to explain to me what wasn’t done that you think should have been done.

    However, the city itself (and who in the city that is responsible for this I don’t know) has misled the public in one respect, and that is on your monthly City of Davis bill. Everyone is complaining all of the sudden, and this increase in sewer fees has finally registered, because of the huge fee hikes that hit in August.

    However, in small print your city services bill reads as follows: “This bill reflects rate increases effective August 1, 2008 for Sanitary Sewer, Drainage and Sanitation. Rate increases are as follows: Drainage 3%, Sanitary Sewer 4% and Sanitation 3.5%…”

    No where in this statement does it note that your fee is based on new consumption based rates calculated differently than the old flat rate. Looking at the above statement, one figures at most their sewer bill will increase by 3% + 4% + 3.5% = 10.5%. Yet my sewer fee went from $79.30 per two months to a whopping $198.38 per two months. That is an increase of 250% in one year! Now it turns out I had a sprinkler leak I was unaware of, which could explain part of this increase, but based on what I am hearing, sewer rates have gone through the roof for everyone.

    I took the trouble to pull out a Sewer Project Draft Report Rate Study, dated Dec 29, 2006, given to our commission. There is a chart in there that talks about projected residential rate increases and percent increases. It states (assuming I am reading the chart correctly) if a single family residence has a current monthly rate of $35, then by year 2011-2012 the rate would increase to about $50 – a modest 6% increase each year, or 30% increase in total over a 6 year period.

    Something has gone very haywire here, and I am not certain what has happened. But it is imperative that the City Council take a look, especially in light of what water rates we may be facing in the future, if the water project is implemented at the same time as the sewer project.

    I would also be interested to hear from other readers of this blog, to find out what increases in their sewer rates they have experienced. We need anecdotal input – enough to push for an investigation if it is warranted. I don’t want to get into the blame game particularly, but do want to find out why the sewer rates seem so out of line with what we were originally told at our commission meetings.

  19. Elaine Roberts Musser

    The Davis Senior Citizens Commission has known this was coming for about two years. We have had Bob Wier come and talk to us about the projected sewer rate increases at length. (He has been extremely cooperative and professional at all times.) As a commission, we raised the issue of cost, and suggested a consumption based rate would be better than a flat rate – because it would encourage conservation, and allow seniors living alone in a home a way to save money as compared to a family of four. We were also made aware of how costly this project was going to be, and given estimates of the increase in costs to our sewer rates (more on that in a second).

    There has been repeated notification on this subject in various ways. I’m not sure what else the city could have done to notify folks this was coming. Bob Weir has made many, many public education attempts in various ways, so you would have to explain to me what wasn’t done that you think should have been done.

    However, the city itself (and who in the city that is responsible for this I don’t know) has misled the public in one respect, and that is on your monthly City of Davis bill. Everyone is complaining all of the sudden, and this increase in sewer fees has finally registered, because of the huge fee hikes that hit in August.

    However, in small print your city services bill reads as follows: “This bill reflects rate increases effective August 1, 2008 for Sanitary Sewer, Drainage and Sanitation. Rate increases are as follows: Drainage 3%, Sanitary Sewer 4% and Sanitation 3.5%…”

    No where in this statement does it note that your fee is based on new consumption based rates calculated differently than the old flat rate. Looking at the above statement, one figures at most their sewer bill will increase by 3% + 4% + 3.5% = 10.5%. Yet my sewer fee went from $79.30 per two months to a whopping $198.38 per two months. That is an increase of 250% in one year! Now it turns out I had a sprinkler leak I was unaware of, which could explain part of this increase, but based on what I am hearing, sewer rates have gone through the roof for everyone.

    I took the trouble to pull out a Sewer Project Draft Report Rate Study, dated Dec 29, 2006, given to our commission. There is a chart in there that talks about projected residential rate increases and percent increases. It states (assuming I am reading the chart correctly) if a single family residence has a current monthly rate of $35, then by year 2011-2012 the rate would increase to about $50 – a modest 6% increase each year, or 30% increase in total over a 6 year period.

    Something has gone very haywire here, and I am not certain what has happened. But it is imperative that the City Council take a look, especially in light of what water rates we may be facing in the future, if the water project is implemented at the same time as the sewer project.

    I would also be interested to hear from other readers of this blog, to find out what increases in their sewer rates they have experienced. We need anecdotal input – enough to push for an investigation if it is warranted. I don’t want to get into the blame game particularly, but do want to find out why the sewer rates seem so out of line with what we were originally told at our commission meetings.

  20. Elaine Roberts Musser

    The Davis Senior Citizens Commission has known this was coming for about two years. We have had Bob Wier come and talk to us about the projected sewer rate increases at length. (He has been extremely cooperative and professional at all times.) As a commission, we raised the issue of cost, and suggested a consumption based rate would be better than a flat rate – because it would encourage conservation, and allow seniors living alone in a home a way to save money as compared to a family of four. We were also made aware of how costly this project was going to be, and given estimates of the increase in costs to our sewer rates (more on that in a second).

    There has been repeated notification on this subject in various ways. I’m not sure what else the city could have done to notify folks this was coming. Bob Weir has made many, many public education attempts in various ways, so you would have to explain to me what wasn’t done that you think should have been done.

    However, the city itself (and who in the city that is responsible for this I don’t know) has misled the public in one respect, and that is on your monthly City of Davis bill. Everyone is complaining all of the sudden, and this increase in sewer fees has finally registered, because of the huge fee hikes that hit in August.

    However, in small print your city services bill reads as follows: “This bill reflects rate increases effective August 1, 2008 for Sanitary Sewer, Drainage and Sanitation. Rate increases are as follows: Drainage 3%, Sanitary Sewer 4% and Sanitation 3.5%…”

    No where in this statement does it note that your fee is based on new consumption based rates calculated differently than the old flat rate. Looking at the above statement, one figures at most their sewer bill will increase by 3% + 4% + 3.5% = 10.5%. Yet my sewer fee went from $79.30 per two months to a whopping $198.38 per two months. That is an increase of 250% in one year! Now it turns out I had a sprinkler leak I was unaware of, which could explain part of this increase, but based on what I am hearing, sewer rates have gone through the roof for everyone.

    I took the trouble to pull out a Sewer Project Draft Report Rate Study, dated Dec 29, 2006, given to our commission. There is a chart in there that talks about projected residential rate increases and percent increases. It states (assuming I am reading the chart correctly) if a single family residence has a current monthly rate of $35, then by year 2011-2012 the rate would increase to about $50 – a modest 6% increase each year, or 30% increase in total over a 6 year period.

    Something has gone very haywire here, and I am not certain what has happened. But it is imperative that the City Council take a look, especially in light of what water rates we may be facing in the future, if the water project is implemented at the same time as the sewer project.

    I would also be interested to hear from other readers of this blog, to find out what increases in their sewer rates they have experienced. We need anecdotal input – enough to push for an investigation if it is warranted. I don’t want to get into the blame game particularly, but do want to find out why the sewer rates seem so out of line with what we were originally told at our commission meetings.

  21. Not A Saylor Fan

    “‘However, it’s important that we are extremely confident that we do as much value engineering, cost reduction as is warranted’ and carefully consider alternatives.”

    And this guy is to be our mayor? Ohmygosh! I never heard such a bunch of BS in my life – but typical blather from this politician. He does nothing but stick his finger in the wind to see which way public opinion is blowing – then does nothing.

  22. Not A Saylor Fan

    “‘However, it’s important that we are extremely confident that we do as much value engineering, cost reduction as is warranted’ and carefully consider alternatives.”

    And this guy is to be our mayor? Ohmygosh! I never heard such a bunch of BS in my life – but typical blather from this politician. He does nothing but stick his finger in the wind to see which way public opinion is blowing – then does nothing.

  23. Not A Saylor Fan

    “‘However, it’s important that we are extremely confident that we do as much value engineering, cost reduction as is warranted’ and carefully consider alternatives.”

    And this guy is to be our mayor? Ohmygosh! I never heard such a bunch of BS in my life – but typical blather from this politician. He does nothing but stick his finger in the wind to see which way public opinion is blowing – then does nothing.

  24. Not A Saylor Fan

    “‘However, it’s important that we are extremely confident that we do as much value engineering, cost reduction as is warranted’ and carefully consider alternatives.”

    And this guy is to be our mayor? Ohmygosh! I never heard such a bunch of BS in my life – but typical blather from this politician. He does nothing but stick his finger in the wind to see which way public opinion is blowing – then does nothing.

  25. fed up

    Bob Weir and the city council are responsible for getting the word out by holding hearings and special meetings and they have failed in doing this.

    I am outraged and I am a taxpayer and voter! This has happened time and time again with no accountability.

  26. fed up

    Bob Weir and the city council are responsible for getting the word out by holding hearings and special meetings and they have failed in doing this.

    I am outraged and I am a taxpayer and voter! This has happened time and time again with no accountability.

  27. fed up

    Bob Weir and the city council are responsible for getting the word out by holding hearings and special meetings and they have failed in doing this.

    I am outraged and I am a taxpayer and voter! This has happened time and time again with no accountability.

  28. fed up

    Bob Weir and the city council are responsible for getting the word out by holding hearings and special meetings and they have failed in doing this.

    I am outraged and I am a taxpayer and voter! This has happened time and time again with no accountability.

  29. A lOng Time Davis Progressive

    Everyone knows Sue doesnt actually talk to “experts.” SHe has gone on and on for years on every subject, but she never names them.

    The fact is that her vaunted rep for doing extra research is mostly fraud.

    SHe sits at home, mostly locked in a deep depression, and yammers to people on the phone whenever her paranoia takes her over (often).

    The reason why she is almost always late is because she gets stuck in her depression at home and cannot get herslef out of it until the deadline to leave has passed and she is in an emergency mode.

    Trust me. I know.

  30. A lOng Time Davis Progressive

    Everyone knows Sue doesnt actually talk to “experts.” SHe has gone on and on for years on every subject, but she never names them.

    The fact is that her vaunted rep for doing extra research is mostly fraud.

    SHe sits at home, mostly locked in a deep depression, and yammers to people on the phone whenever her paranoia takes her over (often).

    The reason why she is almost always late is because she gets stuck in her depression at home and cannot get herslef out of it until the deadline to leave has passed and she is in an emergency mode.

    Trust me. I know.

  31. A lOng Time Davis Progressive

    Everyone knows Sue doesnt actually talk to “experts.” SHe has gone on and on for years on every subject, but she never names them.

    The fact is that her vaunted rep for doing extra research is mostly fraud.

    SHe sits at home, mostly locked in a deep depression, and yammers to people on the phone whenever her paranoia takes her over (often).

    The reason why she is almost always late is because she gets stuck in her depression at home and cannot get herslef out of it until the deadline to leave has passed and she is in an emergency mode.

    Trust me. I know.

  32. A lOng Time Davis Progressive

    Everyone knows Sue doesnt actually talk to “experts.” SHe has gone on and on for years on every subject, but she never names them.

    The fact is that her vaunted rep for doing extra research is mostly fraud.

    SHe sits at home, mostly locked in a deep depression, and yammers to people on the phone whenever her paranoia takes her over (often).

    The reason why she is almost always late is because she gets stuck in her depression at home and cannot get herslef out of it until the deadline to leave has passed and she is in an emergency mode.

    Trust me. I know.

  33. Anonymous

    You are a demagogue on this issue and you need to stop.

    Example one: What is the cost of doing nothing?

    This is an issue you refuse to address. There is a cost to doing the project. We all know what that is. What is the cost on NOT doing the project? No one is asking that question and yet the costs are very real. Until you know the answer to that I suggest you stop acting like a mouthpiece and knock it off. The costs of inaction will be huge. The city is facing a dire situation due to the deteriorating quality (yes, it’s getting worse) of our groundwater. So add up both sides of the ledger before going off on another “second-guessing” bender.

    Two: Critics got all the outside expert counsel they ever wanted in the recent independent review. When the results came back in a unanimous recommendation to move forward with the project, the critics once again began trashing the process and the independent review panel. They are shopping for answers that will help them reach the conclusion they want to reach.

    Three, delaying the project will mean the end of the project. Numerous water law attorney and the State Dept. of Water Resources has made this painfully clear, but you and others keep acting like it’s an option: it’s not. If we delay the project ends. It cannot be re-started. It cannot be postponed. We will never again have this opportunity to secure higher quality water.

    Until you begin exercising some real independence of your own here and stop looking at this vitally important issue with such ideological blinders on, I’d suggest you do the community a favor and blog on other issues. Thanks!

  34. Anonymous

    You are a demagogue on this issue and you need to stop.

    Example one: What is the cost of doing nothing?

    This is an issue you refuse to address. There is a cost to doing the project. We all know what that is. What is the cost on NOT doing the project? No one is asking that question and yet the costs are very real. Until you know the answer to that I suggest you stop acting like a mouthpiece and knock it off. The costs of inaction will be huge. The city is facing a dire situation due to the deteriorating quality (yes, it’s getting worse) of our groundwater. So add up both sides of the ledger before going off on another “second-guessing” bender.

    Two: Critics got all the outside expert counsel they ever wanted in the recent independent review. When the results came back in a unanimous recommendation to move forward with the project, the critics once again began trashing the process and the independent review panel. They are shopping for answers that will help them reach the conclusion they want to reach.

    Three, delaying the project will mean the end of the project. Numerous water law attorney and the State Dept. of Water Resources has made this painfully clear, but you and others keep acting like it’s an option: it’s not. If we delay the project ends. It cannot be re-started. It cannot be postponed. We will never again have this opportunity to secure higher quality water.

    Until you begin exercising some real independence of your own here and stop looking at this vitally important issue with such ideological blinders on, I’d suggest you do the community a favor and blog on other issues. Thanks!

  35. Anonymous

    You are a demagogue on this issue and you need to stop.

    Example one: What is the cost of doing nothing?

    This is an issue you refuse to address. There is a cost to doing the project. We all know what that is. What is the cost on NOT doing the project? No one is asking that question and yet the costs are very real. Until you know the answer to that I suggest you stop acting like a mouthpiece and knock it off. The costs of inaction will be huge. The city is facing a dire situation due to the deteriorating quality (yes, it’s getting worse) of our groundwater. So add up both sides of the ledger before going off on another “second-guessing” bender.

    Two: Critics got all the outside expert counsel they ever wanted in the recent independent review. When the results came back in a unanimous recommendation to move forward with the project, the critics once again began trashing the process and the independent review panel. They are shopping for answers that will help them reach the conclusion they want to reach.

    Three, delaying the project will mean the end of the project. Numerous water law attorney and the State Dept. of Water Resources has made this painfully clear, but you and others keep acting like it’s an option: it’s not. If we delay the project ends. It cannot be re-started. It cannot be postponed. We will never again have this opportunity to secure higher quality water.

    Until you begin exercising some real independence of your own here and stop looking at this vitally important issue with such ideological blinders on, I’d suggest you do the community a favor and blog on other issues. Thanks!

  36. Anonymous

    You are a demagogue on this issue and you need to stop.

    Example one: What is the cost of doing nothing?

    This is an issue you refuse to address. There is a cost to doing the project. We all know what that is. What is the cost on NOT doing the project? No one is asking that question and yet the costs are very real. Until you know the answer to that I suggest you stop acting like a mouthpiece and knock it off. The costs of inaction will be huge. The city is facing a dire situation due to the deteriorating quality (yes, it’s getting worse) of our groundwater. So add up both sides of the ledger before going off on another “second-guessing” bender.

    Two: Critics got all the outside expert counsel they ever wanted in the recent independent review. When the results came back in a unanimous recommendation to move forward with the project, the critics once again began trashing the process and the independent review panel. They are shopping for answers that will help them reach the conclusion they want to reach.

    Three, delaying the project will mean the end of the project. Numerous water law attorney and the State Dept. of Water Resources has made this painfully clear, but you and others keep acting like it’s an option: it’s not. If we delay the project ends. It cannot be re-started. It cannot be postponed. We will never again have this opportunity to secure higher quality water.

    Until you begin exercising some real independence of your own here and stop looking at this vitally important issue with such ideological blinders on, I’d suggest you do the community a favor and blog on other issues. Thanks!

  37. Doug Paul Davis

    “What is the cost of doing nothing?

    This is an issue you refuse to address.”

    It’s an issue that I refuse to address because it’s a position I don’t support.

    The question is one about how to mitigate costs and prevent the public who cannot afford it from getting soaked.

    That’s a strawman argument.

  38. Doug Paul Davis

    “What is the cost of doing nothing?

    This is an issue you refuse to address.”

    It’s an issue that I refuse to address because it’s a position I don’t support.

    The question is one about how to mitigate costs and prevent the public who cannot afford it from getting soaked.

    That’s a strawman argument.

  39. Doug Paul Davis

    “What is the cost of doing nothing?

    This is an issue you refuse to address.”

    It’s an issue that I refuse to address because it’s a position I don’t support.

    The question is one about how to mitigate costs and prevent the public who cannot afford it from getting soaked.

    That’s a strawman argument.

  40. Doug Paul Davis

    “What is the cost of doing nothing?

    This is an issue you refuse to address.”

    It’s an issue that I refuse to address because it’s a position I don’t support.

    The question is one about how to mitigate costs and prevent the public who cannot afford it from getting soaked.

    That’s a strawman argument.

  41. cbutler

    This “long time Davis progressive” needs to take an anger management class as well as get a grip. Sue Greenwald spends more time researching important issues than anyone else on the council. David’s dig about her not naming names was unwarranted, since he knows perfectly well why Sue is unwilling to do so in this case and he should have said so.
    Sue, as always, is the voice of the people on this council, and as is often the case, the council begins to come around to her view based on the authenticity and validity of her arguments.
    If “progressive” is truly so, he or she should stop sniveling about Sue and should fully support her stand.

  42. cbutler

    This “long time Davis progressive” needs to take an anger management class as well as get a grip. Sue Greenwald spends more time researching important issues than anyone else on the council. David’s dig about her not naming names was unwarranted, since he knows perfectly well why Sue is unwilling to do so in this case and he should have said so.
    Sue, as always, is the voice of the people on this council, and as is often the case, the council begins to come around to her view based on the authenticity and validity of her arguments.
    If “progressive” is truly so, he or she should stop sniveling about Sue and should fully support her stand.

  43. cbutler

    This “long time Davis progressive” needs to take an anger management class as well as get a grip. Sue Greenwald spends more time researching important issues than anyone else on the council. David’s dig about her not naming names was unwarranted, since he knows perfectly well why Sue is unwilling to do so in this case and he should have said so.
    Sue, as always, is the voice of the people on this council, and as is often the case, the council begins to come around to her view based on the authenticity and validity of her arguments.
    If “progressive” is truly so, he or she should stop sniveling about Sue and should fully support her stand.

  44. cbutler

    This “long time Davis progressive” needs to take an anger management class as well as get a grip. Sue Greenwald spends more time researching important issues than anyone else on the council. David’s dig about her not naming names was unwarranted, since he knows perfectly well why Sue is unwilling to do so in this case and he should have said so.
    Sue, as always, is the voice of the people on this council, and as is often the case, the council begins to come around to her view based on the authenticity and validity of her arguments.
    If “progressive” is truly so, he or she should stop sniveling about Sue and should fully support her stand.

  45. Mike Hart

    Actually there is a very serious question raised here about the need to actually comply with the new rules. “Or what?”

    Why not spend a million bucks on a lobbyist to see if we can create an exemption and skip the whole waste water project? Davis has an exemplary system and the only reason to change is not that we are doing anything wrong, or that we predict and growth to our system, its because some government weenies have changed the numerical standards so our system can’t match it anymore. So what? There is no demonstrable harm from our system- so why change to meet some silly new standard.

    Seriously- so what?

    I would rather put my money into a lobbyist and some lawyers and send the government regulators back to the sewer pit from whence they came.

  46. Mike Hart

    Actually there is a very serious question raised here about the need to actually comply with the new rules. “Or what?”

    Why not spend a million bucks on a lobbyist to see if we can create an exemption and skip the whole waste water project? Davis has an exemplary system and the only reason to change is not that we are doing anything wrong, or that we predict and growth to our system, its because some government weenies have changed the numerical standards so our system can’t match it anymore. So what? There is no demonstrable harm from our system- so why change to meet some silly new standard.

    Seriously- so what?

    I would rather put my money into a lobbyist and some lawyers and send the government regulators back to the sewer pit from whence they came.

  47. Mike Hart

    Actually there is a very serious question raised here about the need to actually comply with the new rules. “Or what?”

    Why not spend a million bucks on a lobbyist to see if we can create an exemption and skip the whole waste water project? Davis has an exemplary system and the only reason to change is not that we are doing anything wrong, or that we predict and growth to our system, its because some government weenies have changed the numerical standards so our system can’t match it anymore. So what? There is no demonstrable harm from our system- so why change to meet some silly new standard.

    Seriously- so what?

    I would rather put my money into a lobbyist and some lawyers and send the government regulators back to the sewer pit from whence they came.

  48. Mike Hart

    Actually there is a very serious question raised here about the need to actually comply with the new rules. “Or what?”

    Why not spend a million bucks on a lobbyist to see if we can create an exemption and skip the whole waste water project? Davis has an exemplary system and the only reason to change is not that we are doing anything wrong, or that we predict and growth to our system, its because some government weenies have changed the numerical standards so our system can’t match it anymore. So what? There is no demonstrable harm from our system- so why change to meet some silly new standard.

    Seriously- so what?

    I would rather put my money into a lobbyist and some lawyers and send the government regulators back to the sewer pit from whence they came.

  49. Liberal in conservative Davis

    Lamar has asked good questions on this subject and I hope he continues to ask more.

    Sue has also asked some good questions but she needs to bring her phantom water experts to council to speak up. It does us no good for her to continue to be devisive just bring the experts forth. This is such an important issue we cannot waste anymore time. Council overall has done a poor job of getting the word out.

    CButler you are wrong about our former mayor Sue. I’m sorry but I have to disagree with you. She was very divisive even with those that supported her. It’s quite sad.

  50. Liberal in conservative Davis

    Lamar has asked good questions on this subject and I hope he continues to ask more.

    Sue has also asked some good questions but she needs to bring her phantom water experts to council to speak up. It does us no good for her to continue to be devisive just bring the experts forth. This is such an important issue we cannot waste anymore time. Council overall has done a poor job of getting the word out.

    CButler you are wrong about our former mayor Sue. I’m sorry but I have to disagree with you. She was very divisive even with those that supported her. It’s quite sad.

  51. Liberal in conservative Davis

    Lamar has asked good questions on this subject and I hope he continues to ask more.

    Sue has also asked some good questions but she needs to bring her phantom water experts to council to speak up. It does us no good for her to continue to be devisive just bring the experts forth. This is such an important issue we cannot waste anymore time. Council overall has done a poor job of getting the word out.

    CButler you are wrong about our former mayor Sue. I’m sorry but I have to disagree with you. She was very divisive even with those that supported her. It’s quite sad.

  52. Liberal in conservative Davis

    Lamar has asked good questions on this subject and I hope he continues to ask more.

    Sue has also asked some good questions but she needs to bring her phantom water experts to council to speak up. It does us no good for her to continue to be devisive just bring the experts forth. This is such an important issue we cannot waste anymore time. Council overall has done a poor job of getting the word out.

    CButler you are wrong about our former mayor Sue. I’m sorry but I have to disagree with you. She was very divisive even with those that supported her. It’s quite sad.

  53. Anonymous

    I am one of the “water experts” who has talked to Sue Greenwald, but I cannot speak out publicly without embarrassing my company and possibly losing my job. This is an extremely complex issue, and I have yet to discover a “bad guy” among the players. All the engineers and designers involved are doing their best according to their knowledge, they are not trying to cheat us. Mike Hart’s comment raises an interesting point, but even the Water Board is acting according to their purpose: to make the waters of California as clean as possible.
    I personally may not be able to afford City Services at the increased rate, so I strongly hope an alternative solution will be found. My “expertise” enables me to see many sides of the issue, but has not enabled me to discover a solution.

  54. Anonymous

    I am one of the “water experts” who has talked to Sue Greenwald, but I cannot speak out publicly without embarrassing my company and possibly losing my job. This is an extremely complex issue, and I have yet to discover a “bad guy” among the players. All the engineers and designers involved are doing their best according to their knowledge, they are not trying to cheat us. Mike Hart’s comment raises an interesting point, but even the Water Board is acting according to their purpose: to make the waters of California as clean as possible.
    I personally may not be able to afford City Services at the increased rate, so I strongly hope an alternative solution will be found. My “expertise” enables me to see many sides of the issue, but has not enabled me to discover a solution.

  55. Anonymous

    I am one of the “water experts” who has talked to Sue Greenwald, but I cannot speak out publicly without embarrassing my company and possibly losing my job. This is an extremely complex issue, and I have yet to discover a “bad guy” among the players. All the engineers and designers involved are doing their best according to their knowledge, they are not trying to cheat us. Mike Hart’s comment raises an interesting point, but even the Water Board is acting according to their purpose: to make the waters of California as clean as possible.
    I personally may not be able to afford City Services at the increased rate, so I strongly hope an alternative solution will be found. My “expertise” enables me to see many sides of the issue, but has not enabled me to discover a solution.

  56. Anonymous

    I am one of the “water experts” who has talked to Sue Greenwald, but I cannot speak out publicly without embarrassing my company and possibly losing my job. This is an extremely complex issue, and I have yet to discover a “bad guy” among the players. All the engineers and designers involved are doing their best according to their knowledge, they are not trying to cheat us. Mike Hart’s comment raises an interesting point, but even the Water Board is acting according to their purpose: to make the waters of California as clean as possible.
    I personally may not be able to afford City Services at the increased rate, so I strongly hope an alternative solution will be found. My “expertise” enables me to see many sides of the issue, but has not enabled me to discover a solution.

  57. Elaine Roberts Musser

    “I would rather put my money into a lobbyist and some lawyers and send the government regulators back to the sewer pit from whence they came.”

    Unfortunately, that is not a viable option. Other cities have tried this, and lost. If our city does not comply with the new gov’t standards by a date certain, it will cost the city in gov’t fines, as much as $10,000 a day, I believe.

    “Bob Weir and the city council are responsible for getting the word out by holding hearings and special meetings and they have failed in doing this.”

    This is untrue. There have been many, many hearings before the City Council on the sewer project. I know, because I have attended many of them. Bob Weir has also mailed out reports to residents to educate them. I repeat, what else should the city have done?

    I still haven’t received any response to my request for anecdotal evidence of significant increases in sewer fees. Take the trouble to compare your May/June bill to that of July/August. Was there more than a 6% increase? If so, how much more?

  58. Elaine Roberts Musser

    “I would rather put my money into a lobbyist and some lawyers and send the government regulators back to the sewer pit from whence they came.”

    Unfortunately, that is not a viable option. Other cities have tried this, and lost. If our city does not comply with the new gov’t standards by a date certain, it will cost the city in gov’t fines, as much as $10,000 a day, I believe.

    “Bob Weir and the city council are responsible for getting the word out by holding hearings and special meetings and they have failed in doing this.”

    This is untrue. There have been many, many hearings before the City Council on the sewer project. I know, because I have attended many of them. Bob Weir has also mailed out reports to residents to educate them. I repeat, what else should the city have done?

    I still haven’t received any response to my request for anecdotal evidence of significant increases in sewer fees. Take the trouble to compare your May/June bill to that of July/August. Was there more than a 6% increase? If so, how much more?

  59. Elaine Roberts Musser

    “I would rather put my money into a lobbyist and some lawyers and send the government regulators back to the sewer pit from whence they came.”

    Unfortunately, that is not a viable option. Other cities have tried this, and lost. If our city does not comply with the new gov’t standards by a date certain, it will cost the city in gov’t fines, as much as $10,000 a day, I believe.

    “Bob Weir and the city council are responsible for getting the word out by holding hearings and special meetings and they have failed in doing this.”

    This is untrue. There have been many, many hearings before the City Council on the sewer project. I know, because I have attended many of them. Bob Weir has also mailed out reports to residents to educate them. I repeat, what else should the city have done?

    I still haven’t received any response to my request for anecdotal evidence of significant increases in sewer fees. Take the trouble to compare your May/June bill to that of July/August. Was there more than a 6% increase? If so, how much more?

  60. Elaine Roberts Musser

    “I would rather put my money into a lobbyist and some lawyers and send the government regulators back to the sewer pit from whence they came.”

    Unfortunately, that is not a viable option. Other cities have tried this, and lost. If our city does not comply with the new gov’t standards by a date certain, it will cost the city in gov’t fines, as much as $10,000 a day, I believe.

    “Bob Weir and the city council are responsible for getting the word out by holding hearings and special meetings and they have failed in doing this.”

    This is untrue. There have been many, many hearings before the City Council on the sewer project. I know, because I have attended many of them. Bob Weir has also mailed out reports to residents to educate them. I repeat, what else should the city have done?

    I still haven’t received any response to my request for anecdotal evidence of significant increases in sewer fees. Take the trouble to compare your May/June bill to that of July/August. Was there more than a 6% increase? If so, how much more?

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