Long Beach Water sets another record
2010-07-07 · By Editor
Today, the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners announced that the Long Beach Water Department has set a new record for the most consecutive days without a water main break. The Department’s last main break occurred on May 9, which was 58 days ago.
“It has now been nearly two months since we had our last water main break in Long Beach,” said Paul Blanco, President of the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners. “This new record really exemplifies the hard work and dedication that our employees put into their jobs each day to ensure that our customers are provided a high-quality and reliable water supply with minimal interruptions in service.”
The Board’s announcement comes on the heels of another record set during Fiscal Year 2009, when the Water Department had only 26 main breaks occur throughout the entire year, surpassing all prior record lows for annual main breaks.
“This is a testimony to the leadership shown by former and current Water Commissioners, who had the wisdom to invest in the revitalization of our infrastructure,” said Kevin Wattier, General Manager of the Long Beach Water Department. “This long-term philosophy is good for our customers with respect to both the reliability of our service, and the cost of that service.”
For nearly two decades, the Water Department has managed an aggressive water main replacement program aimed at upgrading the city’s older and more unreliable pipeline infrastructure. During this time, over 1 million linear feet of cast iron pipeline has been replaced with stronger and more durable ductile iron pipeline. As a result of the Department’s pro-active investment, the frequency of annual main breaks in the City has dropped dramatically over the years, from a high of 180 breaks in 1991, to last year’s low of 26.
On June 24, 2010, the Board of Water Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the Fiscal Year 2011 (FY 11) Budget for the Long Beach Water Department. The $114.4 million budget reflects a 9 percent increase in FY 11 Sewer Rates, but no increase in FY 11 Water Rates. The result is a combined 1.7 percent increase in rates paid by all Long Beach Water Department customers.
The Board of Water Commissioners approved the FY 2011 rate resolution with no proposed increase in water rates, despite significant cost increases in imported water purchases and groundwater pumping fees that the Water Department pays to supply water to its customers. Long Beach purchases over 40 percent of the City’s water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. This year’s imported water rates will increase by 7.5 percent, which is in addition to last year’s 21 percent rate hike. The Water Department also pays an annual pump tax on every acre-foot of groundwater that it pumps from the City’s groundwater wells, where it gets roughly half of its water supply. This year’s pump tax increased by slightly more than 13 percent, which follows last year’s 19 percent increase. Over 25 percent of the total Water Department budget goes toward these two annual expenditures.
The increase in sewer rates was approved by the Board to ensure that the Water Department remains in strict compliance with increasingly stringent state and Federal regulations imposed on agencies with sewer system responsibilities. The regulations require sewer agencies to monitor and maintain sewer infrastructure at very high standards, aimed at minimizing the frequency of pipeline failures and other sewer system overflow incidents that can negatively impact local water quality and public health. For many years, the Water Department has been pro-active at maintaining and upgrading its sewer system, and as a result, it enjoys a very low rate of sewer overflow incidents as compared with other similar sized sewer agencies throughout California.
“We are pleased to adopt a budget this year that utilizes no increases in water rates and only a 1.7 percent increase in overall rates to our customers,” said President Blanco. “State regulations that guide our sewer operations continue to become stricter and more costly, but we will continue to seek innovative ways to absorb these costs while minimizing future rate increases to our customers.”
In May 2010, a study performed by engineering consultants Black and Veatch, showed that Long Beach customers enjoy one of the lowest sewer rates in California.
The approved sewer rate increase, scheduled to take effect on October 1st, 2010, is subject to a Proposition 218 Public Hearing and adoption by the Long Beach City Council. Long Beach residents will receive official notices regarding the rate increase in the mail later this week.
Long Beach Water is an urban, Southern California retail water supply agency, and the standard in water conservation and environmental stewardship.