Sierra Madre property owners:
This letter is written to encourage you to register an objection to the proposed water increase. Unless you submit a written objection, you will be deemed to have voted 'Yes' to the outrageous water increase the City Council has already approved.
The City Council has approved a water rate increase of 16% in the first year, accruing to 40% in five years. There is no justification for such a large increase.
The City of Sierra Madre's water rates are among the highest of those in the San Gabriel Metropolitan Water District. Sierra Madre's rates are compared with Azusa, Monterey Park and Alhambra on our city's web site in a chart from page 15 of the consultant's water fee study that shows that customers pay now:
Monterey Park $81.82
Sierra Madre $104.00
The Director of Public Works claims that the residents of Sierra Madre pay more because there are fewer people to spread the costs among. However, since we have a smaller population, we have less infrastructure needs than a city with more people, and we should also need fewer staff, fewer wells and less pumping costs.
If this rate hike goes through, in five years your bill will be 140% of what it is now.
The City also claims that a rate increase will be beneficial to the city, to continue ongoing repairs to the aging infrastructure and to increase our Water Dept. reserves, now at two million five hundred thousand dollars, as announced by the Director of Public Works. But what have our higher rates been buying so far?
And not this much, and not in this manner. The public has not been properly informed or been given enough time to respond. The suggested tiered system was identified by the Director of Public Works as being ineffective as a conservation measure, and it will unnecessarily complicate our billing. The Los Angeles City Council is in the process of removing tiers from their billings because of the confusion and dissatisfaction it has caused. The meter size penalty is also a controversial matter that requires public discussion.
IF YOU DO NOT SEND IN A PROTEST LETTER YOU WILL BE CONSIDERED TO HAVE VOTED "YES" FOR INCREASED WATER RATES!
50% plus one more individual of Sierra Madre's water customers voting NO will stop this extreme increase. There is no other means of protest.
Sign and then turn the protest form in as soon as you receive it, seal it in an envelope addressed to the City Clerk, and mail it or take it to city hall. It must be in the hands of the City Clerk by July 13.
(Ed: End of letter. And now on to the Water Walk. Something that apparently only a few throughout history have been able to do.)
Water Walk Recap (Courtesy of the Minute Maid News Consortium - Chief Black Kettle reporting.)
At about 6:30PM last night, Councilmember MaryAnn MacGillivray, City Manager Elaine Aguilar and Public Works Director Bruce Inman began the magical mystery tour of the Public Works water operations at the City Yards for an estimated 18 to 20 residents, flanked by half that many PW staff, and two members of the Fifth Estate. The group was divided into two sections and guided by either Bruce Inman or Chris Cimino, among five different points of interest where additional staff were located to provide information about various aspects of the operations.
The first stop was the exhibit of the well traveled six foot section of corroded pipe that partied down at the 4th (or 5th) of July event. The pipe was essentially put into the ground in the 1920s and was fabricated of riveted sheet metal. Mr. Inman told the tourists that these sections are constantly being dug up as they fail, then are replaced with ductile iron pipe with a concrete liner and an estimated life of 70 years. The Water Department is eventually going to phase out the older water meters and replace them with battery powered monitoring devices which will provide information to the Water Department as to the status of the water supply being delivered to the subscriber. He then went on to give a PowerPoint presentation on the various water collecting basins in the City and the various reservoirs, which led to a discussion of the current well status. He noted that the wells are drilled to a depth of about 600 feet. Water is collected at about the 350 foot depth. Bruce then gave statistics on the amount of electricity used in the pumping of these wells.
Inman clarified the issue that all of our wells are within the boundaries of Sierra Madre. He addressed the subject of the Camillo Street diversion of the Sierra Madre Canyon Wash water and the spreading grounds; the water that is collected from the Santa Anita debris basin; the issue of the "emergency" MWD 10" line and told us that use of the emergency pipe would only be granted at the discretion of the MWD, a yes or no on whether a request from SM can be honored. The group then was given a presentation by a Water Department staffer on the budgetary issues facing Sierra Madre as we are faced with a possible default on bonds. Apparently there is an urgent need for the additional money to avoid default.
The group was then led to the pump house, which houses five 200hp 480 volt 3-phase electric motors driving five pumps and the concomitant necessary electronic equipment to control their operation. Two pumps are in use at any given hour of the day or night.
Ever onward, the touristas proceeded to the deep well on the site of the City Yards, and named Well Number Three; serviced by a 200hp 480 volt three-phase electric pump. The water is pumped directly to the new 5,000 gallon activated charcoal filtering system; from there it is pumped to the five pumps which distribute water throughout the City.
From there the group went to the office and the computer-central base of the operations. On view was the state-of-the-art computerized system which graphically shows the status of the water system throughout the town at any given moment, capable of being adjusted and controlled remotely.
Bravo and well done! Kudos to the staff of the Public Works Water Department who conducted a most professional and technically competent excursion, and conveyed to the residents present the information about the functioning of the entire process in a clear and understandable fashion.
The low turnout of citizenry to this unique opportunity to see the water system in detail was truly disappointing. Heretofore only City Councilmembers, Planning Commissioners and City Staff have been given a tour like this as a part of their orientation. The City, although putting on a brave face in asking for such a large increase in expenditures, gave this reporter the opinion that this could have been handled much more expeditiously had they come to grips with these problems by way of small incremental increases since 2005, rather than dumping something this large on the citizens in 2010.
(Ed: End of yet another excellent report from the MMNC. The news about a possible default involving a New York bank seems rather revelatory at first pass. We will be following up on that angle of this late breaking story later this morning when our phoner friends are awake.)
(Ed: "Bank" edited to "Bond." 10:15 AM.)