Preserving Calaveras County’s Valuable Water: CCWD

Government at a Glance: CCWD

By Paul Stein

What is the purpose of the Calaveras County Water District (CCWD)?

The purpose of CCWD is to provide water and wastewater services to the residents and businesses of Calaveras County. The District is a political subdivision of the State of California and is not under the jurisdiction of Calaveras County. The District operates as a special district within Calaveras County—one of the original 27 counties of the state organized by the California Legislature in 1849. CCWD currently provides water service to approximately 12,745 municipal and residential/commercial customers through surface water diversions from the Mokelumne, Calaveras and Stanislaus rivers. The District also maintains four major wastewater service areas that provide sanitary sewer services to approximately 4,726 customers.

What is CCWD’s Authority?

As one of the original 27 counties of California, Calaveras County was endowed with a significant allocation of water rights from the Mokelumne, Calaveras, and Stanislaus rivers. The voters of Calaveras County ratified the formation of CCWD in 1946 and gave the District broad general powers over the use of the water and water rights within its boundaries. These powers also include the right of eminent domain, authority to acquire, control, distribute, store, and salvage any water for beneficial use. CCWD also has the authority to provide sewer service, to sell treated or untreated water, to acquire or construct hydroelectric facilities and sell the energy produced to public agencies or public utilities engaged in the distribution of power. CCWD may also levy taxes for improvements, subject to Article XIIIA of the California State Constitution.

How is CCWD funded?

CCWD collects revenues from several integrated sources: First and foremost CCWD collects fees for water service to recover the cost of providing water to the District’s residents and businesses. It also collects fees to recover the cost of providing wastewater services to its customers. However, rate revenue is not enough to fund the total cost of operations and must be offset by a variety of miscellaneous revenues including property tax revenue, interest income, hydro revenue, grants, fees and other sources.

How is rate revenue calculated?

The FY 2012-13 budgeted revenues for both water and sewer services are based on a five year rate plan approved by District Board on May 23, 2007. The adopted water rate plan utilizes a four-tiered billing structure and was designed with uniform monthly base rate increases over the five year period.

The water base rate for residential customers is $39.50 per month, which is generally comparable to other water districts contiguous to Calaveras County. There are additional charges for water usage above this base rate which is billed on a tiered structure depending on consumption above 500 cubic feet per month.

The District’s wastewater residential customers are charged a flat monthly fee for sewer services. The wastewater revenues are based on the number of wastewater connections and the prevailing monthly wastewater rate ($67.50 as of July 1, 2012) which again is generally comparable to other sewer districts in the area.

Power Sales:

CCWD owns and holds Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licenses to two hydroelectric projects which are operated under contract by other public entities. Those entities make payments to Calaveras County Water District for use of the projects based upon the terms and conditions of their contracts.

Hydro revenues come from the sale of power at the North Fork Stanislaus and New Hogan facilities. These revenues are dependent on winter storms and spring runoff for producing hydroelectric power. Hydro revenues are split between the water and sewer operating funds.

Property Taxes:

The District collects property tax revenues based on a percentage of the total assessed value of secured properties within Calaveras County, as determined by the County Assessor’s Office. Due to a sluggish housing market, persistent foreclosure problems, and recent reassessments by the County Assessor’s Office, the total secured assessment revenues to the District has been declining.

 How are members of the board selected?

The Board is comprised of five members, who are elected from five County divisions not unlike supervisorial districts. Each duly elected member must reside in the area they represent. The term of office is four years with no term limits.

Directors are paid a $125 per diem for meetings and are limited to seven meeting per month.  They also receive health, vision, and dental benefits, and a $10,000 term life insurance policy and are reimbursed for usual and customary travel expenses representing the District.

What is the CCWD’s debt burden?

In January 2012, the District’s Board of Directors authorized a ten year internal loan in the amount of $3,000,000 to fund the construction of the new Operations Headquarters building. The first five years of loan payments will be “interest only” at 2.5% in the amount of $75,000 per year. In years six through ten, loan payments will consist of both principal and interest, for a total of $645,741 per year.

 

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CCWD at a Glance:

Mission:

The Calaveras County Water District is dedicated to protecting, enhancing and developing the rich water resources to the highest beneficial use for Calaveras County, while maintaining cost-conscious, reliable service, and quality of life, through responsible management.

Total Operations & Capital Outlay Budget FY 2012-13: $14,040,328

Total Administrative Budget FY 2012-13: $8,045,049

Full Time Employees: 72

Executive Director: Mitch Dion

Annual Salary: $165,000/yr. plus benefits + $4000/yr. deferred compensation + $500/month vehicle allowance

Address:

423 East St. Charles Street
Post Office Box 846
San Andreas, California 95249   

Phone: (209) 754-3543

Website: www.ccwd.org

Board Meetings: Second and fourth Wednesdays of each month at 9:00am in the CCWD Board Room.

Paul Stein is a freelance writer and former Calaveras County supervisor.  Contact him at pstein@volcano.net

 

 

 

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