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Developer Discounts Cost AWS Ratepayers

The Amador Water Agency (AWA) has been telling the public that the upcountry Gravity Supply Line project didnít concern downcountry residents because they would not be paying for it. It is now a fact that downcountry residents will pay for the project, even though it does not benefit them. At the August 11, 2011 board meeting, the AWA board gave away nearly $500,000 worth of assets that were paid for by AWS ratepayers (water users in Jackson, Sutter Creek, Ione, Plymouth, Amador City, and Drytown).

The AWA board voted to enter into an agreement to allow JTS Communities, Inc. (Castle Oaks in Ione) to purchase 148 water connections for $8,000 each. According to the most recent 2007 study and accounting for inflation, the cost of those connections is $11,300 each. The total discount on the 148 connections amounts to $488,400 and AWS rates will now have to be raised by that amount to make up the difference in the lost revenue.

AWS water rates have already gone up to buy facilities that nobody needs right now. Supposedly, new development was going to pay their fair share so rates would stabilize, but nobody is going to make up the shortfall with JTS, except the ratepayers.

AWS does not need the cash to operate. The AWS system has reserves and a balanced budget. However, money is still being spent on the GSL even after upcountry residents told AWA that they would not pay for a project they do not need. So the AWA board has pushed costs of the GSL project on AWS in the hardest times most of us have seen in our lifetime. The water agency is right about one thing: the GSL will not benefit the AWS customers in any way.

The financial benefit to JTS is about 10% of your annual AWS water bill. Interestingly, the Building Industry Association (BIA) has contributed heavily to many of the candidates that ran for AWA board. Will all the BIA members get deals like this one?

Itís no wonder that your AWS water rates keep going up. The water agency is using your rate dollars to fund other systems while they discount fees to developers. When AWA comes knocking on your door for yet another rate increase, youíll know why.