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New water rates for developers set

Tehachapi City Council Update

On Nov. 1, the Tehachapi City Council updated the rate it charges developers for water rights. Since 2007 the Tehachapi Municipal Code has provided a fee mechanism to collect funds from new residential developments to assist in the procurement of long-term water rights. New developments can either secure their own water rights or provide an in-lieu fee to the City for the needed water.

The fee was last updated in 2020 to $3,148 for a base size dwelling unit and usage of the fees was clarified. The fees can be used for specific purposes: to procure available water rights from the Tehachapi Basin, to fund City efforts to improve wastewater recycling (the Groundwater Sustainability project), to purchase a 20-year water supply when available from Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District (TCCWD). The fee was calculated based on the most expensive option which was water from TCCWD.

The City hired MKN & Associates to review and update the fee program. The company specializes in solutions for water, wastewater and recycled water challenges. The company found that water rates had increased about 25% from a year and a half ago, recommending a fee increase to $3,918 and setting a priority for use of the fees. First priority would be to purchase water rights (if available) at a price below or up to that fee. The second use of the fee would be to continue the City’s plan for their Groundwater Sustainability project. Lastly, the funds could be used to import a 20-year supply of water for each single family residence (or equivalent).

Director of Public Works Don Marsh said that the plan is to get developers to pay-as-they-go so the City will not have to subsidize. Currently water rights are available and the more they can purchase, the less they will need to purchase from the State.

Mash reminded the council that developers also pay landscape and lighting fees for their housing developments.

The Tehachapi City Council meets on the first and third Monday of the month at 6 p.m. They are currently meeting at the Police Department Community Room, 220 W. C Street.