Anger Over Water Rates Boil Over

The Los Altos Town Council gets calls to look at Purissima Hills Water District's fiscal practices, following the second rate hike in three years.


On the heels vocal dissatisfaction over in Los Altos Hills, angry customers asked the Town Council to review the fiscal practices of the . 

"Purissima Hills Water District seems to be non-responsive to its customers," said John Harpootlian, who spoke during the public comment period, requesting the Finance and Investment committee to look at the organization's accounting.

The PHWD approved a 51-cent-per-unit price increase last week, and, in the face of great outcry, dropped its proposal to build in automatic price increases over a five-year period and abandoning a Consumer Price Index increase, as well.

The district gets all of its water from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir in the Sierra Nevada, owned by the City of San Francisco. The water system is in the middle of its first major upgrade since it was built in the 1920s and 1930s, and the cost has been spread out among the dozens of Peninsula communities that receive the water.

Richard Aurelio, who had vigorously opposed the rate hike, spoke in favor of Harpootlian's suggestion, adding that the district's status as a non-profit entity did not appear to make it run more cheaply nor efficiently than the privately run Cal Water. 

Council members supported placing the question of a review on the May agenda, including Ginger Summit, who noted that the council had a precedent for this kind of review in its action to exert more influence over the Los Altos Hills County Fire District .

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