About CAWP (Central Amador Water Project)
If you buy water from Amador Water Agency and live in one of the following communities: Sunset Heights, Jackson Pines, Pine Grove, Pine Acres, Ranch House Estates and vicinity, Pioneer, Rabb Park, Ridgeway Pines, Silver Lake Pines, Sierra Highlands, Fairway Pines or Mace Meadows, then your water comes from the Central Amador Water Project System (CAWP).
CAWP water is pumped from the Tiger Creek Afterbay which is on the Mokelumne River. This water is pumped 1,200 feet up to the water treatment plant in Buckhorn. After treatment, the water is stored and then distributed to the above mentioned areas via the distribution piping system.
How Ratepayers are Affected
If the CAWP system is not operated efficiently, costs to ratepayers will be excessive. Since 2001, CAWP rates have increased by 70%. The increase is mostly due to the cost of design, planning and construction of the Buckhorn Water Treatment Plant that was completed in 2004.
The Buckhorn Treatment Plant is designed to supply three times the capacity that is needed on the system today. Because the project was overdesigned,
ratepayers are paying for a project that is three times larger than needed. Ratepayers would save over $200,000 per year if the cost of the Buckhorn Plant
was split fairly between them and future customers. $200,000/year amounts to a savings of about $57 per year for each customer on the CAWP system.
The Gravity Supply Line (GSL)
Despite what you may have heard, the Amador Water Agency's proposed Gravity Supply Line will not replace the existing system. The choice is not between the GSL and maintaining/upgrading the old system. The choice really is: Do we maintain/upgrade the existing system or do we maintain/upgrade the existing system AND build the GSL. That cost comparison was never presented to the Board or public. Make your elected officials justify expenses before they spend your money.
Since 2001, AWA has spent $1.4 million on studies, design and planning for the Gravity Supply Line. The project would supply 3 times as much water to the Treatment Plant in Buckhorn via gravity flow through a pipeline from Tiger Creek Regulator Reservoir. The cost is estimated at $13,900,000 and AWA must meet certain conditions to receive a $5,000,000 grant to help with the cost.
The annual cost of pumping water in the existing system is $250,000. If the GSL is put into service, the pumping cost is expected to be reduced to nearly zero. However, the cost will be replaced by the mortgage ($425,000) and lost power charges from PGE ($100,000). The net effect is a net increase in costs to CAWP customers and a $79 annual rate increase will be needed to make up the difference.
If the annual costs of the Buckhorn Plant and the GSL were shared fairly between ratepayers and future customers CAWP rates could be reduced by about $60 per year. Unfortunately, the most recent financial plans show ratepayers footing the bill for both projects and CAWP ratepayers will pay $136 per year more than their fair share if the GSL is built.