The Solano Irrigation District held its nose and passed a temporary increase in water rates because customers are using less water during the drought.
The district serves mostly agricultural customers in the Fairfield, Vacaville and Dixon areas, but those cities are not part of the service area.
A number of smaller residential communities are in the district, including the tiny hamlet of Elmira, just south of Dixon.
Resident Ken Fittro is at a loss to understand why he is being rewarded with a rate increase after conserving water.
“Seems odd, we’re trying to save… and they’re making us spend more money, doesn’t make sense to me,” Fittro said.
But district officials say they are in a tough spot because they bill customers for only the water they use.
“We have fixed costs we have to meet, and we have costs and no revenue coming in so it’s a big deal,” said Solano Irrigation District General Manager Cary Keaton.
Keaton says the rate increase is in effect for just one year or less.
“If we get a lot of rain this winter, our board can rescind the increase,” said Keaton.
But he also says if the drought continues, all bets are off. He says the drought is a slow disaster that gives them time to maneuver the budget, but only if they don’t spend their cash reserve.
Other water districts in the state face the same dilemma to one degree or another because their billings will go down as more and more people conserve water.