News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


PRESS RELEASE 01/31/2011
Subject :

Rate Increases Proposed for Water and Wastewater Collection Utilities in Palo Alto
Contact : Ipek Connolly, Senior Resource Planner, Utilities    650-329-2193
Palo Alto, Calif. –The Utilities Advisory Commission (UAC) of the City of Palo Alto will meet on Wednesday, February 2, 2011 to discuss proposed rate adjustments to the City of Palo Alto's water and wastewater collection services.  The regular meeting will take place in the Palo Alto City Council Chamber, beginning at 7:00 p.m.  City Hall is located at 250 Hamilton Avenue in Palo Alto. The session is open to the public.

The proposed changes to water rates represent an overall increase of 12.5 percent and reflect  the cost of providing water service to each of the various customer classes.  These adjustments include increases in the monthly customer service charges and include additional usage-based tiers for the volumetric charges.

 Similarly, the proposed change to wastewater rates represents an alignment of costs based on a review of actual cost of service.  The residential wastewater service charge would increase to $27.91 monthly as opposed to the current charge of $24.65 monthly.  Commercial customers’ bills will vary depending on customer class and individual water usage levels.

 The rate adjustments are subject to the City Council’s approval in June.

 "We are keenly aware of the need to manage costs in this current economic climate, and appreciate the outstanding and ongoing efforts of the citizens of Palo Alto to conserve our natural resources.  However, the underlying costs of providing water require us to propose these changes," said Valerie Fong, Director of the Palo Alto Utilities Department.

 The water rate adjustments reflect several substantial cost factors, including a critical rise in the City of Palo Alto Utilities’ (CPAU) costs for water supply, along with expenses associated with system upgrades.   Water supply costs are projected to double by 2016, largely as a result of the infrastructure projects currently undertaken by the City’s primary water supplier, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC).   SFPUC’s $4.6 billion initiative includes the repair, replacement and seismic upgrades of the regional system’s deteriorating pipelines, tunnels, dams, reservoirs, pump stations and other facilities.  Palo Alto City Council supports this program, the cost of which is shared by all of the SFPUC’s water customers.

Additionally, CPAU has planned capital improvement projects, including necessary seismic retrofitting of Palo Alto’s water tanks, along with improvements to tank coatings and their associated expense.

Proposed and current water rates are outlined in the table below.

In addition to the discussion occurring at the Utilities Advisory Commission, reviews will be held by the Finance Committee in March.  The City Council will then vote on this proposal in June.  These meetings are open to the public, and offer Palo Alto citizens an opportunity to understand the basis for these proposed changes, as well as to comment on them. 

CPAU will comply with the requirements of Proposition 218, which applies to water service and wastewater rate increases and the customer charges described here.  Under Proposition 218, the City must provide written notice by mail to water customers subject to the proposed changes, and hold a public hearing held not less than 45 days after the notice is mailed.  If written protests against the proposed fees are presented by a majority of customers, the City may not impose the fee.

A summary of water saving tips is attached.  For further information about Palo Alto’s utilities, including conservation information, visit CPAU’s web site at or go directly to water saving tips at   

 Tips to Reduce Utility Bills through Water Conservation

 •           Replace turf with water-efficient shrubs and groundcover
Consider replacing grass lawns with water efficient landscaping such as native or drought tolerant plants.

 •           Fix leaks when you see them
Faucet and toilet leaks can waste hundred of gallons a day.  Fix them promptly to save on water consumption—and your utilities bill.

 •           Get a free water wise house call
A trained water surveyor will come to your home or apartment and recommend ways to improve home water efficiency.  Water surveyors will also check your irrigation system and suggest a watering schedule, and adjust your timer. 

For more information on programs and rebates, as well as water saving tips, visit CPAU’s web site at