The City of Visalia has formally notified California Water Service Company (Cal Water), after first informally notifying the company on December 15, 2015, that the City has decided to not pursue an acquisition of the Visalia District Water System at this time.
The Council has outlined a list of concerns and issues to address with Cal Water. Some of these issues include the proposed 29% increase, and the fact that Cal Water’s conservation program has not met the state mandate for water conservation, which could lead to $10,000 in fines per day, most likely passed down to Visalia ratepayers. The Council wants to see how the company will address these, and other concerns, in the future.
In November of 2015, the City forwarded a notice of decision to appraise the Visalia District Water System, property owned by Cal Water. Cal Water responded to the City’s decision to appraise the Visalia District by requesting that the Council not consider acquiring the system and instead allow the company to focus on efforts to comply with drought-related conservation efforts.
On December 15, 2015, within weeks of receiving Cal Water’s request, the Council agreed and reaffirmed its willingness to work cooperatively with the company.
“We’ve been seriously concerned with many issues, among them conservation and rate hikes,” says Steve Nelsen, City of Visalia Mayor. “It was necessary to move forward with the appraisal, which came at a one-time cost of $66,185.00. When you’re looking at Cal Water requesting rate increases that will pull an additional $2.3 million out of Visalia every year and send it to San Jose, it was a necessary step to see where we stand.”
Despite Cal Water mailers and web posts touting a “government takeover”, today’s formal legal notice confirms the Visalia City Council’s commitment to not consider acquiring the system at this time.
Visalia did meet the state-mandated water conservation levels for November, thanks to citizen conservation and help from rainfall. However, it was the first and only time this past year Cal Water reached the state mandate, which was enacted in April of 2015.
The latest conservation numbers show a 27.8% reduction for the month of December, below the mandated 32%.
The City looks forward to Cal Water developing and implementing a water conservation plan that demonstrably meets state water use reduction mandates on an on-going basis.