NID water rates to rise; raw water discount remains for early bill payers |

NID water rates to rise; raw water discount remains for early bill payers

About 25,000 households in western Nevada and northern Placer counties will pay more for water starting Jan. 1.

Nevada Irrigation District board members stuck with planned water rate increases starting in 2011, but kept a 5 percent discount for raw water users who pay their bills early.

In their meeting Wednesday, board members reviewed a plan already in place that would increase rates by an average of 6 percent for most customers, said spokesman Dave Carter. The increases are part of a five-year plan to raise rates that was adopted by the board two years ago.

For most homeowners, that means a bump from $16.58 to $17.32 a month for the fixed rate just for being connected to the system. In addition, rates will rise from $1.22 to $1.36 a month per 100 cubic feet (748 gallons) used, up to 500 cubic feet. Above that, rates will rise from $1.57 to $1.76 per 100 cubic feet.

Public opinions varied on the subject.

“There’s nothing much we can do about it,” said Grass Valley resident Ralph Migliozzi. “NID has done a lot of controversial things, and this is one more taking,”

“I’m not all that disturbed about it,” added Grass Valley resident Craig Hall. “Things go up, it’s a fact of life,”

The rate hike aims to stave off deficits in district funds projected by 2012, spawned by the district’s costly pipeline and flume improvement projects. Those include the $35 million Banner Cascade project, the $10 million Banner Taylor Reservoir project, and the Combie Phase One canal project, estimated at $30 million, said Finance Manager Marie Owens.

The district’s reserves were at $61 million December 2009, when last audited, Owens said. District rules prevent reserves from dipping below $35 million as defined by the district.

That minimum balance is a cushion against events such as a catastrophic event in which the district’s insurance may cover the failure of a dam, but not necessarily property damage downstream, she said.

Contrary to staff recommendations, board members in a split vote decided to keep a 5 percent discount given to raw water users, such as ranchers and farmers, who pay their entire bill at the beginning of the year, Carter said.

Directors Nancy Weber and Nick Wilcox voted to eliminate the discount; John Drew, Chairman Scott Miller and Jim Bachman voted to keep the discount.

Staff recommended phasing the discount out over the next two years.

To contact Staff Writer Greyson Howard, e-mail or call (530) 477-4237.

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