Water officials blame inflation and increased labor costs for sizable water rate increases that begin this month for customers in 10 San Gabriel Valley communities.
Local water officials said the hikes--nearly 29% in some cities and 14% in others--have little to do with extended drought conditions, although they warn that future increases may be.
The increases, approved late last month by the state Public Utilities Commission, affect Southern California Water Co. customers at the western and eastern ends of the San Gabriel Valley.
In the west, 11,000 customers in portions of Arcadia, El Monte, Irwindale, Monrovia, Monterey Park, Rosemead, San Gabriel and Temple City will see their rates increase by close to 29%. This will make the average residential monthly bill jump by $5.45 to a new high of $24.69.
The company originally had requested a 31% increase, which the state denied.
In the east, rates will go up 14% for 10,000 customers in parts of Claremont, Montclair, Pomona, Upland and parts of unincorporated Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. The average monthly residential bill will be boosted to $43.62, a $5.79 increase.
The company had initially sought a 22% increase for the area.
Donald Yep, an engineer with the state commission's San Francisco office, said the agency considers the rate hikes justified because of the increasing cost of providing water.
Water companies may request rate increases every three years. Yep said the size of the increases was not unusual.
"It happens like this with all the water companies," he said. "There are often between 15% and 30% increases."
He noted, however, that companies may request additional increases by citing special circumstances if the drought persists.