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Water Prices Still Rising In Wet Year

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, June 13, 2011

The Sacramento County Department of Water Resources is in the final phases of a billion dollar regional water project.  Herb Niederberger is the Division Chief of the water agency.

"We've gone from four million dollars in a debt payment to more than 25 million dollars in debt to pay for facilities that will last the water agency for a hundred years," Niederberger said.  "But they've been constructed now."    

Niederberger says the water agency pays those bonds with revenue it collects from developers and customers.  And for the past couple years, development has been non-existent.  So that leaves customers to pick up the tab with a five dollar a month rate increase. 
And while that project is specific to that area, cities across California are facing a similar problem. California's aging water infrastructure needs updating.  At the same time, regulation is also driving water prices higher. 
Danny Merkley is the Director of Water Resources for the California Farm Bureau. 
"Mother Nature's drought may be over this year, but we are dealing with a tremendous regulatory drought."
He says laws that protect fish and their habitats not only make water more expensive for farmers but harder to access.  He says there's a trend of farmers abandoning water-intensive crops like alfalfa and tomatoes, and planting nut trees and grape vines that can better weather dry conditions.      




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