June 13, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

In Marina del Rey, Malibu, water customers missing targets may pay triple fees

(Thinkstock)
(Thinkstock)

Water customers in Lancaster, Marina del Rey and Malibu and some other areas may have to pay triple charges on some of their water bills if they don’t cut their consumption to meet state drought relief targets.

The Los Angeles County supervisors will consider surcharges of 100 to 200 percent for county water district customers who fail to cut consumption by 32 percent in the Antelope Valley, and 36 percent in Malibu, Marina del Rey and Topanga Canyon.

A public hearing was scheduled on the emergency water conservation plan for 1 p.m. Tuesday at the supervisors hearing room in Los Angeles.

City council members in Malibu expressed worry that the rate hikes will unfairly hit persons who already had conserved water in past years, giving them the same punitive water hikes that water hogs will face.

The county runs self-supporting water districts in several rural areas, plus unincorporated Marina del Rey and in the cities of Malibu and Lancaster, which have not taken over ownership of older county systems.

County staffers said in a report that the emergency water cuts of 36 percent in Malibu, Marina del Rey and Topanga Canyon, and 32 percent in Lancaster, will cause a drastic reduction in revenue for county water departments, just as expensive reconstruction projects are underway.

Under the county proposal, all customers will have to meet state targets that are based on collective water use patterns over the past several years. Acton, Kagel Canyon and Val Verde customers must cut water use by 25 percent, Antelope Valley customers must trim by 32 percent, and water customers in Malibu, Marina del Rey and Topanga Canyon must slash water use by 36 percent.

Water rates would not change for water use below those state targets. And the baseline amount will be the average water used by the customer before the drought caused officials to ask for voluntary conservation.

But that means people who conserved water before the drought will face the same cutback penalties that profligate users will face, two Malibu city council members said.

Water use above the conservation target would get a 100 percent surcharge, and if customers blow past their targets by 15 percent, the surcharge would go to 200 percent, under the county proposal.

That means a house in Malibu, Topanga Canyon or Marina del Rey would see a triple water rate for use over 74 percent of baseline measurements. For water use in those areas between 64-74 percent of normal, the rate would be double.

Two Malibu city council members said they worry that the hikes will hit people who have been conserving for years, in an area where some customers show”extremely outrageous water waste (that) is skewing the numbers.”

Laura Zahn Rosenthal and Skylar Peake wrote an open letter, published in the Malibu Times, and asked for”a workable and fair conservation plan that would call for extreme cutbacks for the highest water users, moderate cutbacks for the average user and minimal cutbacks for those who already conserve water.”

The Malibu officials urged stronger tactics against the estimated 1,200″extreme water users in this (Malibu) service area,” to force those residents and businesses “to make drastic cuts” of 60-75 percent.

They also asked the county to transfer water police authority from the County Department of Public Health to the waterworks agencies, and asked that electronic water meters be used to pinpoint water hogs and dispatch county crews when unfair amounts of water are drawn from the county-owned system.

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