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The Watchdog
AWA Consolidates Rates to Undermine Protest

About RPA
Ratepayer Protection Alliance (RPA) was formed to support the rights of the people of Amador County against unfair rate increases, which are usually used to subsidize special interests. Recently, RPA has assisted citizens who successfully protested several water rate increases. RPA is committed to ensuring that water, wastewater and garbage rates in Amador County are justified, and do not unfairly burden local residents.

RPA works hard to minimize costs of informing the public of unfair rate increases. RPA operates on the donated time of volunteers and no one is paid for their efforts. Donations for postage costs can be sent to:
Ratepayer Protection Alliance
P.O. Box 51
Pine Grove CA 95665

AWA Consolidates Rates to Undermine Protest

The Amador Water Agency (AWA) recently mailed more than 6,900 rate notice letters to AWA customers, announcing the consolidation of AWA water system rates. The consolidation is AWA’s response to several successful protests that stopped unfair rate increases within AWA’s individual water systems. Under Proposition 218, customers have the right to protest the consolidation. If a majority protests, the consolidation will not go forward.

Ratepayer Protection Alliance is advising ratepayers and property owners on all systems to protest the consolidation whether their rates will increase or not. Here’s why:

By consolidating the systems, AWA will make it much more difficult to stop a rate increase unless people in Ione, Sutter Creek, Upcountry and Amador City agree. Once the systems are consolidated, it will take 3,451 protests to stop an increase. Fortunately, ratepayers can maintain control of water rates by protesting the consolidation and rate increase now.

What makes the consolidation even more disturbing is that AWA will be able to build large expansion projects for a specific system and obligate ratepayers of that system to pay for it. Because rates will increase on one system only, ratepayers on the other unaffected systems will not be motivated to protest and, in the case of Upcountry, even with 100% protesting, they will only get 2,600 of the 3,451 protests needed to stop the rate increase. Upcountry will lose control of their rates.

Upcountry ratepayers have a lot to worry about. The cost of the Gravity Supply Line is uncertain and could be subject to huge cost overruns. Also, AWA claims the existing pump system is failing. If true, the pumps and pipe will need to be replaced and AWA has already told ratepayers that replacing the system will require a 40% rate increase. Because the cost overruns and pump replacement will be paid through debt payments, only Upcountry residents will be subjected to the increases to pay for them. But Upcountry residents will no longer have enough votes to stop the increase.

It’s not just Upcountry residents who could face unstoppable rate increases. AWA is looking at an enormously expensive water treatment expansion for Camanche customers, and has tens of millions of dollars in projects planned for the system that serves Jackson, Sutter Creek, Ione, Amador City and Plymouth.

If you own or reside on property served by AWA, you can protest the rate consolidation by filling out a protest form and returning it to RPA. We will submit it to AWA at the hearing on June 18th.

Download the protest form

Please forward this message to others in Amador County and help us get the word out!

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Our mailing address is: Ratepayer Protection Alliance, P.O. Box 51, Pine Grove CA 95665
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