Mountain Democrat, 2/14/13
The Domestic Irrigation water rate category was eliminated as of Jan. 1, but only just under 9 percent of the DI customers qualified and applied for conversion to the Small Farm or Agriculture Metered Irrigation rate, according to a report given to the El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors Feb. 11.
There were 1,230 Domestic Irrigation water rate customers, according to Interim Utility Rate Manager Jenny Downy, but only 108 qualified for the Small Farm or AMI rates. The remaining 1,122 customers have been changed to the Single-Family Residential water rate.
Domestic Irrigation was discontinued after EID completed a Cost of Service Study and found it did not meet the principles established in the Cost of Service Study. Further it was a subsidized rate class and because it was closed to new applicants as the district waited for attrition to whittle down its rate class members, it no longer fit the “fair and equitable” provisions of Proposition 218.
To qualify for the Small Farm rate property owners had to have a certain amount of property under cultivation and pass an inspection by the county Agricultural Department. That inspection is renewed every three years.
In the same report given it was noted that the staff has been auditing AMI accounts. Out of 225 audited 73 were identified as “needing field verification.” After field audits 33 customers were mailed letters “informing them we were unable to determine if they currently qualified for the AMI rate.” They were asked to reapply if their property met the criteria for the ag rate.
Director George Osborne was first elected to the board in 2001 as a candidate that was part of a successful recall election. One of the issues in the recall was the board’s elimination of the Domestic Irrigation Rate, which Osborne promised to restore. He succeeded in getting the board to overturn previous action eliminating the DI rate.
Eventually, though, that rate class was frozen. There were 2,700 Domestic Irrigation water rate customers, but that rate did not attach itself to the property, so when property was sold a DI customer disappeared. By March of 2012 when the DI rate was highlighted at an EID workshop, the number had been whittled down to 1,300.
As of Aug. 27,. 2012, there were 1,230 Domestic Irrigation Customers and Jan. 1 there were none, though 108 qualified for a switchover to one of two existing ag rates.