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Desert Water Agency raises rates starting July 1

By Greg Lee, KESQ News Channel 3 & CBS Local 2 Reporter, glee@kesq.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 07:41:26 AM CDT
Updated On: Jun 19 2014 12:21:00 AM CDT

Thousands of people in the Coachella Valley will soon pay more to keep their water running.

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -

Thousands of people in the Coachella Valley will soon pay more to keep their water running.  Desert Water Agency, the second largest water provider in the valley, will raise rates by about 22%.  DWA said that equates to about $12.64 for an average single-family home.  The rate increase goes into effect on July 1. "Pretty tough, pretty tough on everybody," said Doug Kincaid.  "I don't know how they're going to do it, I don't know how, how you going to do it?"

DWA's general manager David Luker says this is the last phase of an incremental rate adjustment process.  The first took place in 2010, the next 2012, now this one.  The board approved the increase after an 11 year stretch in the 90s, without one.  "We were able to hold cost where they were, do things differently, use less people, but we've kind of run out of that ability," said Luker. 

By law, water agencies cannot charge people more than it costs to provide the service. Despite the increase, a graph on the agency's website shows DWA still carries one of the lowest rates in the region.

Luker says the jump in prices for customers means the agency's expenses are also rising. "There are costs that we can't avoid, cost increases, one this year is electricity," said Luker. 

DWA, like all Southern California Edison customers must deal with an increase of 5-10%.  On its website, Edison points to the growing cost of power as the main reason for the hike. No matter the reason for the utility increases, it could create some major issues for low-income families.  Martha's Village and Kitchen says it's preparing to give out food to more people who might struggle with the new prices.  "Based on the income they have coming in, a lot of times people will choose to stay fed," said Richard Guiss, the director of development. 

Luker says DWA is sensitive to those in need and already works with customers to make payment arrangements. "I may not like to hear some of those comments, but I think that's about my only response is we're as lenient as we can be," said Luker.