End of drought means little to water customers here

By Karen Brainard

While Gov. Jerry Brown declared an end to the state’s three-year drought last week, the news may have little immediate impact for customers of the Ramona Municipal Water District (RMWD).

RMWD Assistant General Manager and Chief Financial Officer David Barnum said that, unlike other water agencies, the Ramona water district never adopted “drought pricing.”

Any local rate impact from Brown’s announcement will be dependent on action taken at the Metropolitan Water District (MWD), the Los Angeles-based water wholesaler, and the San Diego County Water Authority, said Barnum. The water authority buys from MWD and then sells to local retail water agencies.

All of Ramona’s water is purchased from the water authority.

“Any reduction in costs from the Met or water authority will be reflected in our rates,” said Barnum.

But, he added, RMWD has not yet heard whether those suppliers will lower their rates.

Although Barnum is in the process of working on RMWD’s budget for fiscal year 2011-2012, he does not anticipate adoption of the budget until July or August, due to the district’s decision to first have a water and wastewater rate study prepared.

In response to the state’s drought status ending, Barnum also noted that RMWD had already lifted mandatory water restrictions for Ramona customers last year. On Aug. 1, 2010, the water district reduced its Level 2 drought alert to a Level 1 drought watch because Ramona customers had exceeded conservation goals.

Brown’s announcement comes after the latest survey by the state’s Department of Water Resources, which showed water content in California’s mountain snowpack to be 165 percent of the season’s average. The winter storms also brought major reservoirs to above-average levels, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

The governor still urges Californians to keep conserving water as he said demand in the state always outstrips supply.



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