By Fernando Alcantara/Garden Grove Journal
Dozens of formal written protests were received by the City of Garden Grove against the proposal. It was not enough to overturn the fee adjustments as proposed thereby allowing a raise in water and sewer rates to all Garden Grove residents.
Residents like Russ McDonald, a retiree living in the city, explained his situation of living on a fixed income and how the raising of water and sewage rates would impose on his already inflexible income.
“I can’t afford the rate increases all the time,” McDonald said. “We’re sitting here on fixed incomes, we don’t get a raise. We’re so far behind we’ll never catch up.”
Another resident, Michael Dahl, urged the city council to understand where residents were coming from and why increasing the rates would hurt them financially.
“My family has experienced over at least a 60 percent decrease in our income during the past five years,” Dahl said. “Yet we are asked to blindly give the Garden Grove City Council the power to reach into our pockets when they feel it is necessary.”
Councilman Bruce Broadwater sympathized with the angry crowd but offered very little solace as the residents grumbled muted scoffs as he explained the purpose for the rate increases.
“We’re forced to buy a percentage of water from these water companies,” Broadwater said. “It has to be done from time to time.”
Starting July 1 of this year, Garden Grove residents can expect a two to three percent increase in their sewage disposal fees; fees as low as $3.98 a month but not to exceed $12.61 a month.
The average sewage bill of a single-family residence in Garden Grove is currently $9.14 a month.
As for water usage, single-family residences can expect a minimum water bill of $11.95, bi-monthly. However, that’s assuming that household does not exceed the usage maximum of 600 cubic feet of water or 4,488 gallons.
After that, the resident is charged a delivery charge between $2.11 and $2.35 per 100 cubic feet and an additional 53 cents per 100 cubic feet.
City council members empathized with the residents in attendance and agreed that the raised rates were more than unfortunate but could not appease them as they stormed out of the council chambers.
“Nobody likes saying, ‘We have to do this,’ but infrastructure is important,” Mayor William Dalton said. “Sewers, water lines… they have to be replaced. One day, gas will be cheaper than water and one day, water will be the most expensive thing we have.”
According to city staff reports, it is the maintenance and upkeep of the water lines and the staffing required maintaining the infrastructure of the city’s water that is imposing the fee increase.
Inflation, sky-rocketing prices of copper and materials and prevailing wage rates the U.S. government places on workers hired to complete these jobs, all factor into the rising cost of water delivery and sewage management.
None of this mattered to the Garden Grove residents who spent their Valentine’s Day hoping the city council would overturn the decision in their favor.
“You can’t fight government,” one resident said as she stormed out of the council chambers.