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San Juan Capistrano Water Rates Case Ruling

Published on Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The 4th District Court of Appeals announced on Monday that the City of San Juan Capistrano's tiered pricing plan that charges higher rates for higher water consumers violates, in part, Proposition 218, a voter-passed amendment to the State Constitution.

The appellate court affirmed under Proposition 218 San Juan Capistrano's right as a public water agency "to pass on to their customers the capital costs of improvements to provide additional increments of water – such as building a recycling plant."

The appellate court determined, however, that San Juan Capistrano failed to comply with Proposition 218 by not calculating "the actual costs of providing water at various levels of usage," and by "merely [allocating] all its costs among the price tier levels, based not on costs, but on pre-determined usage budgets."The ruling notes that "while tiered, or inclined rates that go up progressively in relation to usage are perfectly consonant with [Proposition 218 and legal precedent]the tiers must still correspond to the actual cost of providing service at a given level of usage."

Read the full ruling here.


Mark your calendar's for the Council’s upcoming webinar with Proposition 218 legal experts: John Bakker, Michael Colantuono and Kelly Salt. These three attorneys will discuss the decision and its implication for water conservation pricing in California.

Date: Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Time: 10 am - 11:30 am

Conference Call In: 1-866-952-8437

Conference ID:185-521-774

Webinar link:

Latest Water News

Biennial California-Nevada Water Rate Survey

Biennial California-Nevada Water Rate Survey

Friday, September 01, 2017
The 2017 biennial California-Nevada water rate survey will be conducted from August 9 through September 20. 

This year’s survey features an expanded partnership, with the California Data Collaborative (CaDC) joining Raftelis Financial Consultants (RFC) and the California-Nevada Section of AWWA.  The survey serves as a significant resource for its primary audience of utility managers, and the project team will implement new ways to make the survey as universal as possible, including more extensive outreach and a volunteer hackathon of water rates led by CaDC. 

The 2017 survey adds three questions about changes to rates and rate structures resulting from the severe drought.  Please click here for the survey and thank you for your participation.