Cost of drinking water, wastewater services to increase for some San Jose residents and businesses

The San Jose City Council yesterday approved increased costs for drinking water and wastewater services for some local residents and businesses.

The cost of drinking water will increase $10-$11 per month for customers of the San Jose Municipal Water System living in North San Jose, Alviso, Evergreen and Edenvale. Services for wastewater management will also increase by 9% per month.

The changes are expected to go into effect on July 1.

San Jose Municipal Water System provides drinking water to 12% of residents in the city, according to the city. It is one of three drinking-water suppliers in San Jose, along with San Jose Water Company and Great Oaks Water Company, which are both privately owned.

City councilmembers voted 10-1 in favor of increasing rates for wastewater management services and 8-2 in support of raising rates on drinking water.

The city says the increases are necessary due to the rising cost of wholesale water, which it purchases from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Santa Clara Valley Water District and South Bay Water Recycling.

Money from the proposed rates for wastewater services will also enable the city to recover costs in operations, maintenance and improvement in wastewater and stormwater facilities that make up San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility and San Jose’s 2,000-mile sewage collection system.

But one business owner at Tuesday’s meeting said the rate increases could seriously harm the city’s economy.

“The few manufacturers left in San Jose could be a lot fewer after this,” Dan Gordon, co-founder of San Jose’s Gordan Biersch Brewery, said during public comment.

He said he may have to fire two of his employees after calculating how the increase in fees for wastewater services could affect his business.

Matt Loesch, director of Public Works for the city, said members of the treatment plan advisory committee have already been discussing these rates on a monthly basis.

“We’ve talked about what can be deferred and what can’t,” Loesch said.

Loesch said the facility is very large and is between 60-70 years old.

“A failure at the treatment plant is something we certainly cannot have,” he said. “So that 9% increase is something that’s a lot, but is justified in my mind.”

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