Comparing water systems

It’s good to see the Readers’ Comments in the COURIER on the possible acquisition of Claremont’s water system.  The community needs a forum such as this for reasoned discussion of the issues involved.

Today let’s consider the validity of comparing the municipally owned water system in La Verne with the system in Claremont, owned by Golden State Water Company. 

According to the comments from the League of Women Voters in the April 26  COURIER (and the opinion of the Editorial Board at the Daily Bulletin), it makes sense to compare the 2 systems. 

To the contrary, Dan Dell’Osa finds such a comparison to be a “False concept.” He sees similarity in comparing water rates with comparing mortgage rates between newly purchased and older homes. But is that a valid comparison?  Water rates do not equate with the cost of acquiring the system. Rates and purchase costs may be related, but they are quite different financial considerations. 

The La Verne and Claremont water systems are quite similar in age, size and quality of management and service, but they have different managers.  So a more reasoned question would be “With 2 similar properties, one managed by a for-profit management team and the other by a non-profit team, which would have the lower management fee for similar quality of management?” 

Most would agree it would likely be the non-profit management. Actual rate comparisons by the League show the average La Verne customer pays about $52 per month less than in Claremont for the same amount of water, or about $7 million per year summed over all the customers in Claremont—very likely enough to pay for the water system with a 30-year bond, without raising water rates or increasing taxes.

Whether or not there is validity in comparing the system in La Verne and Claremont is important. Claremont is fortunate to be able to compare our water system with a municipal system in a similar neighboring city, for it gives us a clear idea what it would be like if we too had a municipally owned and managed water system.

If Claremont does acquire its water system, La Verne is likely to be willing to cooperate in its management. We would not be alone in this venture.

I hope others who support or differ on this, or other acquisition issues, will make their reasoning known so together we can find the best possible result.

Freeman Allen