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Don't 'Water Down' Rate Increase Story

April 07, 1991

This is in reply to Bob Low's letter to the editor (Times, March 24) regarding his misleading statements and mixing city of Covina water rate increases and salary increases allowed employees.

He contends that the new rate structure is unfair and not needed. For one who pretends to be informed, he is either intentionally sidestepping the primary cause of the water rate increases to ingratiate himself for the next election, or is ignorant, or both. The cause, as everyone who reads the newspaper or watches TV news knows, is the major water cost increases from the Metropolitan Water District due to the accumulative drought over the past five years. Anyone even modestly aware of local government all the way up to the governor's chair has seen that the district's much-needed drought plan and lack of water supply has caused the price of water to escalate. These costs are passed on to the water users.

Mr. Low notes his own water bill, which also reflects water use far above the average for a Covina single-family resident. Those residents in Covina using more than the average will pay the bulk of the extra costs for water. Mr. Low is asked to be a good citizen and reduce his water consumption like his neighbors. If he does not, and continues to use water in excess, he will have the higher water bills he fears. This is fair. Others should not carry the cost burden for him.

As to Mr. Low's non-acceptance of the problem of the water shortage and the relationship to the cost of water, he should be more concerned. Since we sent out a mailer to each home served by the Covina Water system asking for a 10% reduction in water usage in May 1990, the record shows that his usage has been unresponsive.

He put forth his own September, 1990, water billing as his example. Comparing September of 1989 to September of 1990, his water usage went up 48%. Comparing all of 1989 to 1990, his water usage overall is up 22%. Even if we look at comparable water usage for the first two bimonthly billings, 1990 to 1991, his usage is up 20%. He should realize and accept the consequences of cost impact caused by those unresponsive to the water shortage.

As to the salary increases for Covina's employees, such are a product of labor negotiations as required by state law and a salary survey of other comparable cities. He should remember his role as former mayor in establishing that list of survey cities. We endeavor to pay our employees at only the average salary level comparative to that survey.

Reduce your water use, Bob, follow the news, and try not to "water down" the whole story with premature campaign rhetoric.

CHRISTOPHER W. LANCASTER

Mayor, Covina

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