Turlock Passes Proposal to Increase Water Rates

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TURLOCK -- Families in Turlock will be paying more for their water. The city passed a proposal that will at least double rates in the next five years.

Eddie Dixon does his part to conserve water. At his business, Sew Creative, water comes from a cooler and the faucets remain off. But Dixon now feels his efforts are fruitless.

"Disappointment. Disappointment at the city, disappointment at the citizens not filling out their protest forms and sending them in," Dixon said.

The Turlock home and business owner says he's upset the city has decided to increase water rates. For instance, a single family that pays $36 a month for water can expect to pay at least twice that in five years.

“A lot of families will struggle, it’s going to end up being after a couple of years, a $300 a year hike,” Dixon said.

For weeks, Dixon was urging his neighbors to send in a ballot to stop the hike. However, only 715 ballots were collected out of the 9,500 needed to stop the city's action.

It's a move the city's Municipal Services director says was sorely needed.

"We're seeing new state regulations, which make it more challenging for us to supply enough water to our customers," said Michael Cooke, director of Turlock's Municipal Services.

Cooke says 100 percent of the city's drinking water comes from wells. The problem is, 11 of the city's wells have a high number of contaminants -- including arsenic and nitrates.

"We recognize this is a cost impact to them, but we're working hard to reduce the costs of the project and find other sources of funds," Cooke said.

The solution? Sourcing water from a surface water supply.

"We've worked with the city of Ceres to build a drinking water plant that would take water from the Tuolumne River, treat it to drinking water standards and provide it to our customers," Cooke said.

But for families who have done everything they can do to cut down, this increase is especially frustrating.

“It’s just going to put the squeeze on everyone,” Dixon said.

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