Water Rates Process
Water rates cover the cost of providing a reliable supply of high-quality drinking water to the communities of Fremont, Newark and Union City. The District regularly conducts an analysis to ensure water rates accurately reflect the cost of water service.
On August 27, 2020, the District held a financial workshop to start a new rates process to review the allocation between fixed service charges and commodity charges in collecting revenues, the charges for dedicated fire service lines, and to provide an update on the District’s current financial status. View the presentation from the August 20 workshop.
A Board workshop is tentatively scheduled for October 22, 2020 to discuss water rates. The workshop will be conducted by webinar or teleconference only. Customers are invited to participate virtually to join the discussion and to learn more about the District’s finances, rates and charges, as well as the cost-of-service studies conducted to guide the rate setting process. View the workshop details, including presentation materials, date and time, and how to join the Zoom meeting. Past financial workshops provide additional in-depth information on the processes.
There were a number of frequently asked questions by customers during the last rates process. View the rate increase FAQ document.
Understanding Your Water Bill
ACWD bills customers every other month, or six times per year. On these bimonthly bills, a customer is billed both a fixed "service charge" and a "consumption charge" based on the quantity of water used during the billing period.
Water customers are charged a fixed service charge based on the size of each meter at the customer’s property. For residential customers – who typically have a meter accommodating either 5/8- or 3/4-inch pipe -- the current service charge is $56.61 bi-monthly. This covers a portion of the fixed costs of operating the water system, such as meter reading, customer service, service line and water main maintenance and renewal, and other infrastructure costs.
The water consumption charge is based on the number of "units" used by each customer. One unit is equivalent to 100 cubic feet or 748 gallons of water. The water consumption charge is currently $4.596 per unit for the typical customer.
The average single-family residential customer currently uses about 16 units of water in a two-month billing cycle, or about 200 gallons per day. This means an average bi-monthly bill of $130.15.
Determining Rates & Charges
As a public agency, ACWD cannot take in funds beyond the costs of providing its service. The District periodically conducts an analysis to ensure water rates accurately reflect the cost of water service. The District also uses outside expert consultants to ensure that its rates are properly determined. You can learn more about cost-of-service studies (PDF) and financial workshops that provide a deeper explanation of the process. Following a series of public workshops, the District notifies customers and the public about any proposed rate adjustments through various means:
- A formal notice of any proposed rate adjustments will be mailed to all addresses within the District’s service boundaries. The formal notice contains the details of a public hearing where the revisions are proposed to be adopted by the Board after a formal 45 day public input period. View more information on District transparency.
- Postings to the District’s website and social media sites
- Email notifications to customers who have subscribed to receive board meeting notices
- Press Releases
- Printed advertisements in local newspapers.
The District continuously looks for and implements ways to minimize costs. These include delaying capital improvement projects when feasible, reducing staffing levels, and using the District’s diverse water supplies to maximize use of lowest-cost water. Cost controls have helped keep the District’s water rates consistently in the lower half of 30 Bay Area water agencies. You can view a chart that illustrates ACWD’s current average water bill in comparison to other Bay Area water agencies.
The District also continuously evaluates new revenue sources such as grant funds, and has secured about $18 million in grant funds and reimbursements in the past year, primarily for mandated fishery projects in Alameda Creek.
To help customers understand how the District spends its funds, ACWD illustrates the FY 2020/20 budget in two ways: by major revenues and expenses.
Customer Assistance Program - Help on Tap
ACWD recognizes some customers may experience difficulty paying their water bills. The District’s customer assistance program, Help on Tap, provides income-qualified residential customers a $25 credit on the bimonthly water service charge.
The Board approved an update to the program income guidelines effective in March 2020, setting the household income limit at the greater of 50% of Area Median Income or 250% of the Federal Poverty Level. More information and applications for Help on Tap are available on the District’s website.
Read more about the Help on Tap program or call 510.668.4200 for details.
ACWD conducted a series of financial workshops during 2018. Agendas for all workshops are available at least 7 days prior to the meeting date in the Agenda Center.
February 22, 2018: This workshop focused on Facilities Connection Charges, which are one-time charges assessed on new connections to the water system. View the presentation from the February 22 workshop.
April 26, 2018: This workshop included follow-up from the February 22 workshop, a general overview of water rates, and an evaluation of water rate policy objectives. View the presentation from the April 26 workshop.
May 22, 2018: This workshop reviewed updates to the District’s budget for FY 2018/19 and the Capital Improvement Program. An update was also provided on the District’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure project. View the presentation from the May 22 workshop.
July 26, 2018: This workshop focused on water rate structure options and how to balance the District’s policy objectives of revenue stability and affordability. View the presentation from the July 26 workshop.
August 15, 2018: This workshop focused on financial planning scenarios. View the presentation from the August 15 workshop.
October 25, 2018: This workshop covered financial planning scenarios, water rates and development charges options, public outreach, and the Proposition 218 protest process. View the presentation from the October 25 workshop.
December 13, 2018: At this Board Meeting, District staff presented proposed development charges and water rates based on the discussions that occurred over the series of financial workshops during 2018. The Board authorized staff to provide formal notice to the community of proposed rate increases. View the formal rate increase notice. Proposed adjustments to a number of miscellaneous fees and the District’s customer assistance program were also presented.The Board also authorized the Notice of Proposed Increase in Water Rates and New Water Shortage Emergency Stage Rates. View the presentation from the December 13, 2018 Board Meeting.
February 7, 2019: At this Board meeting, the Board held a Public Hearing on the proposed rates and charges. District staff made a presentation on the proposed rates and charges and the Board received comments from members of the community. At the conclusion of the Public Hearing, the Board approved a 2-year water rate increase -- 4 percent beginning March 1, 2019 and 4 percent beginning March 1, 2020, to both the bimonthly service charge and water consumption charge. The Board also approved the water shortage emergency stage rates. View the presentation from the February 7, 2019 Public Hearing.
ACWD hosted two community meetings to inform the community about future changes to water rates and the projects and programs supported by your rate dollars.
These meetings were hosted in an open house forum allowing the public to visit multiple information stations and talk one-on-one with District staff. A formal 15-minute presentation was given at 7:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., respectively.
Wednesday, January 16, 2019:
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Ardenwood Elementary School
33955 Emilia Lane, Fremont
Wednesday, January 30, 2019:
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Los Cerritos Community Center
3377 Alder Avenue, Fremont
The full report on the water rates proposal from the District’s financial consultant is available. The report includes two appendices:
- Appendix A, which is the updated water rate study report prepared by the District’s consultant in 2017.
- Appendix B is the underlying cost of service study that was prepared by the financial consultant in 2015.
- ACWD Water Rate Update Memorandum Supplement 2017
If you should have any questions or comments about ACWD’s rates and charges, please contact us 510.668.4200 or email our rates team.