EID’s $49 per acre foot small farm water rate has barely increased since 2008 while residential rates have sky-rocketed to $829 per acre foot. In 2009, EID reduced the small farm rate 37 percent. In 2012, EID reduced the small farm rate another 15 percent.
EID’s two major small farm rate reductions in 2009 and 2012 both increased rate disproportionality compared to regular residential customers and failed to recover costs as required by Article 13d of the State of California Constitution, frequently known as Proposition 218. But at least the Proposition 218-violating small farm rate previously was for a relatively modest 550 acre feet of water per year.
But in the last three years, EID relaxed its small farm eligibility requirements and allowed the number of ratepayers receiving small farm rates to quadruple to 720. In turn, the acre feet sold at the special $49 far-below-cost rate has surged to nearly 2,000 acre feet. This means that regular residential customers now are paying an extra $1.1 million in their rates to subsidize treated water for hundreds of olive tree hobbyists, the county fairgrounds and hundreds of others who show no economic proof that they are legitimately and/or materially in the business of agriculture.
With 35,000 regular residential ratepayers having substantially reduced their water consumption an average of 18 percent since 2009, it further is unjust that the small farm customer class has failed to reduce individual average consumption one iota. Instead, EID’s average small farm ratepayer to date has not conserved in his/her water consumption and receives all water over one-quarter of an acre foot at the rate of $49 while residential ratepayers pay $829 per acre foot.
I believe that EID’s ratepayers all deserve a level playing field in their rates and that adherence to Article 13d of the California Constitution mandates that the small farm rate be abolished. Those qualifying for EID’s regular agriculture rates should do so.
While hundreds of small farm rate recipients will protest in mass, I believe that tens of thousands of regular EID ratepayers will say “It’s about time that EID start playing fair with the regular ratepayer.”
EID Director, Division 2