On May 4, 2020, the City Council of the City of Sonoma adopted a resolution deferring the scheduled July 2020 water rate increase of 7.5% for six months. The water rate increase will now take place on January 1, 2021. This City Council action was taken because the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are particularly severe on the City’s tourism economy. Deferring implementation of the 7.5% water rate adjustment for 6 months will help community members with the financial strain associated with the COVID-19 pandemic
The key cost Issues resulting in the new Water Rates include:
- A court decision that cities can no longer use tiered rates to encourage conservation - tiered rates must be tied directly to the actual cost of services;
- Increases in the cost of water purchased from the Sonoma County Water Agency;
- Infrastructure improvements including replacing water main pipes that are approximately 50 years old and the pipes feeding key fire hydrants in portions of town that are not sized appropriately;
- Investment in new meters that will provide real time information regarding water use to help in conservation and early detection of water leaks;
- Increasing Water Fund reserves to ensure there are sufficient resources for the City’s water system in the event of natural disasters such as fires or earthquakes, as well as future droughts.
The City recognizes that water customers could face even greater financial impacts in the future if water rates are not set at appropriate levels now. During four public workshops, the City Council made a number of decisions that reduced the rate impact to our customers while ensuring that we could continue to provide safe and reliable water to our community.
For additional information please visit Water Rate Change FAQ .
Water Connection Charges
Updated Water Connection Charges were approved by the City Council on December 16, 2019 as Resolution #76-2019. A summary of the study used to set these charges can be found under the staff report .
These charges are summarized as follows:
Water Capacity Charge
The capacity charge applies to all customer classes and meters based on meter size. These rates are based on capacity charge calculations , using the Replacement Cost Less Depreciation methodology for calculating the value of assets. There is no capacity charge for “fire service only” meters.
The water meter shall be furnished and installed by the City. Applicant shall pay a meter charge for the meter and installation cost of materials, labor and equipment plus an administrative charge as determined by the City at the time of installation.
The applicant shall make arrangements for an underground contractor licensed by the State of California to install the lateral and meter box and other appurtenant and required equipment and devices (such as a backflow prevention device if required by the City). The lateral shall be installed to meet City standards and shall extend from the water main to the meter. The size and materials used shall be approved by the City. The lateral shall terminate in a meter box at a location approved by the City.
Front Foot Charge
The applicant may be required to pay a front foot charge as determined by the City. This will allow a case-by-case determination of the front foot charge as an amount to reimburse the City or a previous applicant who extended a City water main along the frontage for a fair share of a new water main extension. In most cases, there will be no front foot charge.
Water capacity charges may be adjusted annually effective each January 1st by the Engineering News Record (ENR) Construction Cost Index for the San Francisco Bay Area annual percent change from July to July averaged over the three prior years. Alternatively, water capacity charges may be adjusted periodically by resolution based on updates to the water asset inventory.
All Other Charges
All other rates, charges, fees, penalties, etc. shall be based on Resolution No. 58-2018 and Resolution No. 56-2014 until updated by subsequent action.
City of Sonoma Municipal Code.
For more information about the City of Sonoma Water Supply and Distribution System, please visit the Water Division page.