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Bring back Tier 3? Rancho Water candidates want to revive budget-friendly rate

By in Press Enterprise on July 7, 2017

By Aaron Claverie

At least two of the five challengers running for the four available seats on the Rancho California Water District’s board are calling for the return of a budget-friendly rate that protected the district’s Temecula-area customers from the sticker shock of punitive “water wasting” charges.

The five are joined by the four incumbents in the race that will be the last of its kind for the district.

Rancho Water, like many area agencies, lumps charges for residential use and landscaping in the first two tiers, and bills at higher rates for water use that exceeds a set water budget.

Tier 3, which provided a cushion for those who exceeded their budgets in a particular month, was axed in 2015 after Gov. Jerry Brown issued a statewide call for a reduction in water use.

The board considered reviving it after epic storms blanketed the Sierras with snow and caused reservoirs to overflow, but it was kept in mothballs due to the still-tenuous state of Rancho’s groundwater system, which was heavily tapped during the recent dry spell.

Lou Williams, a local chiropractor who is one of the five challengers, attended the board meeting in early June when the district approved a slight increase in rates — less than 1 percent for most residential customers — and he was surprised there wasn’t more clamoring for the return of the tier.

“Nobody addressed the one issue that causes most residents to have the higher rates,” he said.

The other four challengers are Mark Schabel, a winemaking consultant who has worked with Ponte Winery; business owner James J. Konrad; Carol Lee Brady, a vineyard owner with long ties to the region, and Angel Garcia, a consultant who has run for a seat on the Temecula City Council multiple times.

The four incumbents are Wine Country grower Ben Drake, retired water engineer Bill […]    

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