Wednesday, November 22 , 2017, 8:39 am | Fair 61º


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Montecito Water District to Consider Drought Rate Pricing to Make Up for Low Water Sales

Montecito residents are conserving water, which is good news and bad news for the water district.

The area was at risk of running completely dry by July until the Montecito Water District board implemented rationing in March. With conservation rates on the rise, the district is now worried about the budget deficit from fewer water sales.

For the fiscal year that started July 1, water sales are 49 percent below what they were last year.

The district sold 345.56 acre-feet of water in October, the seventh month with rationing policies and penalties in place. It’s the smallest amount for October since at least 1996, according to the district.

At this rate, the district will end the year $4 million in the red.

Although the penalties have brought in $1.58 million in fines so far this year, the money doesn’t make up for the diminished water sales, business manager Mark Carlson said.

There will be no way for the district to make up for the loss in revenues other than putting a temporary drought rate structure in place, he said.

District directors unanimously approved hiring Berkeley-based Bartle Wells Associates to review the rate and penalty structure and develop drought rates.

Neighboring Santa Barbara implemented drought rates in July and customers have had bigger water bills as a result. Those rates are structured to encourage conservation, with higher rates for higher water use.

If Montecito pursues a rate increase, it must go through a Proposition 218 process, which requires research justifying the need for the utility rate increase and public hearings. 

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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