Wednesday, March 4, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Rural water rate dispute prompts lawsuit

By
From page A3 | January 24, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — Solano County has a water dispute going that could affect more than 800 rural customers near Fairfield-Suisun City.

The Green Valley Landowners Association followed through Thursday with its previously announced intent to sue Vallejo over the high price of water from the city’s Lakes Water System. It filed the suit in Solano County Superior Court.

“The city of Vallejo has shirked its responsibility and chronically neglected the Lakes Water System,” association president Bill Mayben said in a press release. “It is simply unconscionable for Vallejo to place the full burden of repairing and maintaining this decrepit system on our small community.”

Vallejo responded with a press release of its own. The association is using the lawsuit as a tool in an attempt to buy the Lakes Water System for less than the city thinks the property is worth, the statement said.

“We just do not see any merits to their demands,” Vallejo City Attorney Claudia Quintana said.

Vallejo owns Lake Madigan and Lake Frey reservoirs in the hills above Green Valley, as well as Lake Curry in Napa County. It started building the reservoir system in the late 1800s to bring water to Vallejo residents. It also over the decades allowed hookups to the system in rural Green Valley, Suisun Valley, Cordelia and nearby areas.

Today, the Lakes Water System no longer serves Vallejo. The 809 rural customers near Fairfield-Suisun City in recent years have seen water prices rise steeply because there are so few customers to spread operating and maintenance costs among.

The lawsuit said that Vallejo water customers helped pay to operate the Lakes Water System for almost 100 years, paying 98 percent of the costs. Then, in 1992, Vallejo stopped using the system and put the entire cost for the Lakes Water System on the 809 rural customers.

“Water rates for the nonresident customers skyrocketed as a result,” the lawsuit said.

The Green Valley Landowners Association fears still further increases. The Lakes Water System needs immediate infrastructure replacement totaling about $24 million. Within another decade, still more infrastructure replacement will be needed costing about $6 million, the lawsuit said.

Vallejo built a water system for its own use and failed to properly maintain and replace infrastructure. It then forced onto the rural residents all costs for a system “terribly outdated and in need of immediate repair and replacement,” the lawsuit alleged.

In addition, Vallejo intends to sell the Lakes Water System to a private, investor-owned utility, the lawsuit alleged. Such a sale could boost water rates 300 percent over the next decade, it said.

Vallejo on Thursday released a Jan. 10 letter from Chief Assistant City Attorney Donna Mooney to the association.

It is “public knowledge” the city has explored selling the Lakes Water System, Mooney wrote. But she denied such a sale is imminent. The City Council could not authorize sale of the multimillion-dollar system without public notice, Mooney wrote.

The Green Valley Landowners Association has tried to work with Vallejo for several years to buy the Lakes Water System. Lakes Water System customers would form a community service district of some type to take ownership. Mayben in 2010 said customers would then know where every dollar is going and could make decisions for the water system.

Mooney noted the association’s interest. Vallejo will give the association a request for proposal to buy the system, once the city has prepared a proposal, she wrote. Potential buyers will have 30 to 60 days to submit responses and a proposed sale would go before the City Council, she wrote.

Vallejo in 2009 raised Lakes Water System rates to meet stricter state water quality standards. City officials at the time acknowledged the increases would be steep. They estimated monthly average bills would go from $85 to $165 within five years, not counting a $40 monthly surcharge.

But, city officials said, Proposition 218 makes it illegal to have Vallejo residents subsidize a water system they don’t use. The state law passed by voters in 1996 allows residents to be charged fees only in proportion to the costs of serving their properties.

In its press release, the Green Valley Landowners Association estimated Vallejo would need to pay $72 million to respond to the various lawsuit allegations – $30 million in water system improvements, $3 million a year in operational costs over 10 years and $12 million in damages.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • SolanoBusinessIncubator.ComJanuary 24, 2014 - 5:55 am

    Stop fighting and find a way to compromise. Got nothing better to do than mediate and find ways to cut down on water usage during our horrible drought?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Police shut down Fairfield street after shooting

By Glen Faison | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Report: Affordable Care Act stretches Solano services

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1

County honors Meadows Trigueiro as Woman of the Year

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Celebrity chef motivates Armijo students

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Caltrans reschedules work on J-Mack Ferry

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

 
State schedules work on Highway 12

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

Bridge work to shut down Highway 12 east of Rio Vista

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

 
Highway 12 Association to meet this month

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

 
Supervisors move ahead with flood planning effort

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

 
 
Robots, raucous businessmen set to arrive on big screen

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

Suisun water rate increase public meetings to begin

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A9

 
Teen hit by SUV remains in hospital

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

College looks at Measure Q project changes

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A9

 
 
 
Fairfield police log: March 2, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: March 1, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Feb. 28, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun police log: March 2, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: March 1, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Feb. 28, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Enrollment of non-residents to be capped at some UC campuses

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

.

US / World

California survey finds Sierra snowpack far below normal

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
California shuts down oil wells to protect ground water

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Ex-CIA chief admits sharing military secrets with mistress

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12 | Gallery

 
Mines, bombs slow Iraqi advance on Islamic State-held Tikrit

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

India orders TV stations not to give rapist a platform

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Health officials perplexed by vaccination skeptics

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Lawmakers taking another crack at expanding gun checks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
California lawmakers show wide discrepancy in missed votes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Agents target industry helping Chinese women have US babies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13 | Gallery

 
Family of girl declared brain-dead sues Oakland hospital

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

US marshals say man killed by Los Angeles police was wanted

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13 | Gallery

 
72 passengers reach settlements in Asiana crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Netanyahu warns US ‘bad deal’ would put Iran on nuclear path

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Congress sends Homeland bill to Obama without conditions

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

.

Opinion

Minority outreach that works

By Jennifer Rubin | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

 
Israelis worry about inequality, not Iran

By Daniel Gordis | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

 
Editorial cartoon: March 3-4, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

Today in History: March 4, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: March 4, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Mushrooms are nutrient-packed, with a deep, savory flavor

By The Washington Post | From Page: B5

 
Get ready to add white to the rainbow of produce you eat

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: March 4, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

My husband and I want different things in our retirement

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

 
.

Entertainment

Apollo to celebrate Holiday birthday

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Oprah’s Chicago studios to close down

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Fashion week moves Milan to Paris

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

.

Sports

Bumgarner hit hard in spring debut, A’s beat Giants 9-4

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
 
Vanden girls roll, advance to SJS championship game

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1

No ‘floating rubbish’ collection for Olympic sailing venue

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Cal senior Reshanda Gray named Pac-12 Player of the Year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Rudy Gay, Kings hand Knicks worst loss of season, 124-86

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Cubs’ scramble on Wrigley Field hits bump when mayor balks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Raiders officially release S Tyvon Branch

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Trooper: Fingerprints show victim in Hernandez’s rented car

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Play ball! Quickly! Baseball tries to speed game this spring

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Australian rugby star Hayne signs 3-year deal with 49ers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Maid: Hernandez messed with security camera after killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Pacquiao big hit so far in Vegas sports books vs Mayweather

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Kings bring back former player Divac in front-office role

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

Oil glut could soon lead to plummeting prices

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
.

Obituaries

Robert C. Thierry

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Garland (Curly) Henry Tackett

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Otto Vasak

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
John Henry Fechter, Jr.

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Jacqueline Mendes

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7