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Santa Cruz water rates will more than double by 2009

Worried about the CalAm/RWE rate increases? How about the Santa Cruz Municipal Utilities (SCMU, but I call it SCUM) rate increase? Water rates in Santa Cruz will rise by 124% between 2004 and 2009. See www.ci.santa-cruz.ca.us/cc/archives/04/6-8meeting/6-8rpt/wt494.htm

The debate about Felton's water system is naive. Operating and capital costs drive water prices. The form of ownership (public or private) is less significant. For privately owned utility companies, the rate of return (profit) is legally limited.

There are pros and cons to public ownership. If we believe CalAm/RWE, public ownership is all bad. If we believe FLOW, public ownership is all good. Nothing is that simple.

(Incidentally, it is riotously funny to watch Republican politicians fight for public ownership in Felton.)

Here in Santa Cruz, I would take a well-managed private company over SCUM any day. I am not suggesting that CalAm is well managed, just that SCUM isn't.

My favorite thing about SCUM is its anti-conservation pricing scheme. My husband and I live in a brand-new building with low-flow fixtures and water-efficient appliances. Our water usage is about one quarter of the norm. People like us, who choose to conserve, actually pay the highest water rates. The more you use, the less you pay, on a per-gallon basis. This is because there is a minimum water/sewer charge of $53.29 every two months, even if you never turn on the tap. Brilliant!
 


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