Client Successes Oct 08, 2019

Budget-Based Water Rates Challenge Dismissed

BB&K Successfully Defends Water District

Budget-Based Water Rates Challenge Dismissed

Best Best & Krieger LLP partners James Gilpin and Kimberly Hood successfully defended Western Municipal Water District in a challenge to its water rate structure under Proposition 218. The Riverside Superior Court dismissed the property owner challenge after finding that Western’s budget-based rates are compliant with the State law and satisfy the State’s requirements that agencies implement measures to conserve California’s water resources.
“This is a good day for Western’s retail water customers – more than 85 percent of whom conserve water, keeping their monthly water costs as low as possible,” Western General Manager Craig Miller, said in a news release posted on the District’s website. “Had Western lost this challenge, customers who proactively stay within their monthly water allocation would have seen an increase in their monthly water bill to offset the excess use of other customers.”
The rate structure was challenged in April 2018 by two residents who lived in the same Riverside-area home. They alleged the rates violate Proposition 218. Adopted by initiative in 1996, the measure amended the California Constitution by adding Articles XIII C and D, changing the way public utilities create and impose taxes, assessments, fees or charges.
Western implemented a budget-based tiered rate structure whereby customers with excessive water usage pay higher rates than efficient users based upon the proportionately higher costs of service incurred to purchase more expensive water and pay for efficiency programs designed to reduce inefficient, excessive and unsustainable use. According to Western’s release, the “ruling is a victory for customers who use water efficiently, conserve a limited resource and help Western achieve statewide water management goals. As residents living in a very arid region, it is all of our responsibilities to be good stewards of this valuable state resource.”

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