September 16, 2010


Protest Poway Sewer/ Water Rates

I have been on a mission for the last 18 months or so, trying to get the city to change the sewer
fees to a uniform unit rate. Currently, the sewer fees are structured so that those who use the
least pay the most. The sewer fee structure also has these screwy irregularities in it that could
result in a single drink of watercosting a customer $150 more over the next year.

Every one of the current council members has been deaf to my pleas. So I found it very
interesting to watch GVCA leaders and the large lot owners hyperventilating one summer
evening in the council chambers, proclaiming that it wasn't fair that the folks who used the
most water would have to pay more for it. They even said it was illegal, because if some people
were paying more for water, then they were "subsidizing" the people who were paying less per
unit. Now you have to remember that some of these folks were getting a "discount" on their
large volume water purchases just a year or two ago.

Hmmm, when they get cheaper rates, it isn't illegal or a "subsidy," it's a "discount."

Nevertheless, with their shrill sense of unfairness and injustice, I figured that at least a few of
them would want to join my efforts for uniform sewer rates. I figured wrong. The GVCA has not
asked the council to do diddly about the sewer rates. They are not interested in fairness or
justice; they are only interested in their own advantage.

There was a letter to the editor in this week's Poway News Chieftain. A certain Sylvia Ginsberg
responded to Marijo Van Dyke's previous letter complaining about the city abandoning
conservation water rates at the request of the GVCA.
A homeowner with a larger family or lot uses more water no matter how much they conserve. The five- tier system is unfair and a detriment to the conservation efforts. Tier 1 doesn’t even cover what Poway pays to buy the water. Apartment dwellers and businesses are charged the Tier 1 rate, no matter how much water they use. Homeowners are billed according to the five-tier system: if you use 15 units or less you’re billed at Tier 1 — once again, less than the cost of the water. How does this encourage conservation?
The five-tier system not only penalizes high water usage, but also subsidizes Tier 1 users. Are you charged a higher price for gas because of the vehicle you drive and the gas mileage it gets? Same thing here.
Ms Ginsberg seems to be really worried that she might be paying more for water than an
apartment dweller or a businessman. What if the shoe was on the other foot? Would she want
it changed? Probably not. Oh wait! The shoe is on the other foot. Ms. Ginsberg is wrong.
Apartments, condos and businesses were never, ever in tier 1. The tiers were only for single
family ratepayers. Condos, apartments and businesses all were assigned a rate equal to the rate
in Tier 3. The new rates, which will kick in in January, will be $4.10 per unit of water for condo,
apartment and business users. For the water gluttons in north Poway? They will be
charged $4.02 for their first 199 units of water.

OMG!!!!!! The water hogs are being subsidized.

And it isn't just their water rates. Large lot owners have the lowest sewer rates in town.
For using 50 units of winter water, they will be charged less than $2.00 a unit, which is less than it
costs to have that sewage processed at Pt Loma. Single family homeowners who use 12 units
will pay $3.67/unit. Condo owners, apartment dwellers and businesses will pay $3.40/unit.

OMG!!!!!! They are really, really being subsidized.

And, by the way, when you buy gas, you pay a tax proportional to the total amount of gas you
buy. Buy water in Poway and you pay a tax called a "fixed fee". But it isn't proportional. The
same fee is charged to the person buying 15 units as to the person buying 200 units. How is that

What can we do?
1. Click on the fullscreen link above the letter to make it larger. Print it, fill it in and mail it to
the city.Email a link to this blog to your friends so they can protest too.

2. Do not vote for any of the incumbents in the next election. If we don't elect some other
people, we will get stuck paying subsidies to the large lot people from the GVCA forever.