The ruling by the Arizona Corporation Commission in the rate case brought by Pine Water Company, granted an 11.8 percent increase in revenue.
When most water users in Pine read that figure in a letter from Pine Water Co., they had some misgivings, but probably felt that it could have been worse. Indeed, it is worse, much worse.
The full impact of the revenue increase was applied to the price of water used, with nothing added to the fixed minimum. More than half the users are part-time residents who generally pay little more than the fixed minimum. The major impact of the increase falls on the full-time residents. In addition, the ACC authorized a surcharge for hauled water, whenever hauling is implemented. On my current water bill, the revised cost of water used, just more than 3,000 gallons, plus the unchanged fixed minimum, resulted in an increase of 35 percent. When the hauling surcharge was included, my total bill jumped up by 63 percent.
Not many months ago, we were hearing from some in the community that we should put our trust in the Arizona Corporation Commission, and depend on them to protect us from the utilities that do not have our best interests at heart. Once again, we see that the best protection is probably not going to come from the commission, but will be that which we provide for ourselves.
Our community needs to come together and take charge of our own destiny in matters of water. Only then will we be protected from suppliers who are interested in maintaining artificial water shortages, and hauling water rather than developing. Of the five suppliers in Pine, there is only one who cannot seem to produce enough water to meet customer needs. They are interested in providing as little water as possible to keep production costs low, while creating high water rates on the premise that it will encourage conservation -- provide minimum product, and charge maximum price.
We can do better than that. Conservation is, of course, very important, but water conservation is a way of life. These skills have been honed because we have been supplied by companies having little or no desire to develop sources, along with a corporation commission that has had little interest in the problems of rural Arizona. Once again, with friends like these who needs enemies?
Howard G. Matthews
Former Chairman & Board Member
Pine/Strawberry Water Improvement District
P.S.: Strawberry beware! Your time is coming.