City Sends Out Official Prop 218 Notice, Hearing Sept. 16


The City of Davis has officially sent out its Prop. 218 Notices to the public following council’s actions on July 15 to implement the Bartle Wells version of the 87-13 water rates.

According to the city, “The proposed rate and fee increases will provide funding for a water supply project to draw water from the Sacramento River and treat it at a treatment plant in cooperation with the City of Woodland. The City plans to build a pipeline to bring water from the treatment plant to Davis.

“The City will use the new water supply instead of groundwater, except during summer periods, when supplies of groundwater are still needed to supplement the new water supply. In addition to funding Davis’ portion of the regional water supply project, the rate increases provide funds for necessary additional capital improvements, operations and maintenance and to fully recover increases in the costs of providing water services.”

The Water Rate Cost of Service Study Update prepared by Bartle-Wells Associates is available at City Hall and available for download at

If adopted, the proposed rate increases will become effective November 1, 2014, and will increase each January 1, thereafter, starting in 2016, through and including, January 1, 2019.

As we have discussed before, according to the law as passed by California voters in Proposition 218, “Any property owner of record whose property is subject to the proposed new rates for the City’s water service fees may submit a written protest to the proposed rate increases.”

Only one written protest will be counted per identified parcel. The City of Davis does not permit renters or other non-property owners to participate in the Prop. 218 rate process.

According to the city, “Written protests may be submitted by mail or in person to: City Clerk, City of Davis, 23 Russell Blvd. Suite 4, Davis, CA 95616-3896. Any protest submitted via e-mail or other electronic means will not qualify as a written protest.”

The notice says that written protests may also be submitted at the public hearing in September, but that all protests must be submitted to the city prior to the conclusion of the public comment portion of the public hearing. At the public hearing, the city council will accept and consider all written protests and hear all oral comments to the proposed rate increases.

“Oral comments at the public hearing will not qualify as formal protests unless accompanied by a written protest. Upon the conclusion of the public hearing, the City Council will consider the adoption of the proposed increases to the rates for water service fees as described below. If written protests against the proposed rates are not presented by a majority of the property owners of the identified parcels subject to the proposed rate increases, the City Council will be authorized to adopt the rate increases.”

At the city council’s July 15 meeting, the council quickly acted to pass the staff recommendation to “Accept the Water Rate Cost of Service Study prepared by Bartle Wells Associates (BWA) dated July 2014, subject to minor modifications,” “Approve the water rates for a five year time frame that can be included in a notice to customers for raising water rates in accordance with Proposition 218,” “Authorize the Notice to Property Owners of Public Hearing on Drinking Water Rates scheduled for September 16, 2014.”

In the motion adopted on July 2, “Thirteen percent (13%) of the annual revenue will be derived from the fixed component of the rates. The fixed component shall be based on meter size in compliance with ratios established by American Water Works Association (AWWA). The remaining 87% of the revenue will come from the uniform block rates charges to each specific customer class in accordance with the Bartle Wells Associates (BWA) Cost of Service Study.”

“Consistent with Article X of the California Constitution and in conjunction with Article XII, the City is electing to recover more than 60% of the costs from the volumetric rate. This is to provide additional incentive to encourage conservation and discourage the waste or unreasonable use of water in Davis,” staff explains.

Staff adds, “Included in the revenue calculations will be the accumulation of $8.5 million in rate/revenue/Operations and Maintenance reserve. Implementation of a Water Shortage Surcharge (Drought Surcharge) that can be added to the water charges in the event of a declared water shortage emergency.”

According to staff, “The proposed rates will provide the necessary funding to meet bond coverage requirements, pay future debt service obligations, sustain the capital improvement program and cover increased operating and maintenance costs.”

The following is the full Prop 218 notice:



—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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    1. Matt Williams

      Yes. As explained in the Bartle Wells Cost of Service Rate Study Update, their water usage is much more concentrated in off-peak times, and from a California Constitution Article XIII (Prop 218) perspective the proportional costs of providing water in off-peak times is lower than during peak times. Further, from a California Constitution Article X (the Water Act of 1908) perspective, commercial users have less opportunity to achieve water conservation than the other three classes of users do.

      1. Napoleon Pig IV

        Thanks for the explanation. I appreciate the logic regarding peak times.

        However, I would never regard the language of a politician’s writing (California Constitution, Water Act, etc.) as being persuasive or indicative of anything other than the balance of power at the time it was written.

        A California Constitution Article X perspective that is over one hundred years old is hardly relevant to modern technology and technological/engineering choices. I suspect the economic interests of business circa 1908 had more to do with that language than physics, engineering or common sense.

        1. Matt Williams

          César, unlike Orwell, frozen in a single time frame, Article X (the Water Act of 1908) has been amended many times, including quite notably Assembly Bill 2882 (Allocation-based conservation water pricing) and Senate Bill 7 X7 (known as The Water Conservation Act of 2009). It is every bit as up to date as Article XIII, perhaps even moreso.

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