WATER RATES ARE increasing in July for San Jose residents in several neighborhoods.

The City Council has unanimously approved increasing drinking and recycled water rates for the next fiscal year. The increase impacts customers of San Jose Municipal Water System, which serves about 136,000 residents in the North San Jose, Alviso, Evergreen, Edenvale and Coyote Valley areas. The increases come as the region faces another extended drought and follows last year’s rate hikes from Valley Water, the wholesale water provider for the county.

It’s not because more water is being used, in fact water consumption is predicted to trend down, according to Kerrie Romanow, director of environmental services. It is because San Jose Municipal Water System expects the operating cost of the water utility system to increase by $8.2 million — from $47.9 million to $56.1 million. The cost of buying water is also expected to increase over the next 10 years, including a 15 percent increase in both 2023-24 and 2024-25, followed by seven years of approximately 10 percent annual increases.

Actual rates will vary by customer and water usage, but an average residential monthly bill of someone in the North San Jose-Alviso service area will likely be an additional $24 per month. Evergreen-Edenvale residents can expect an additional $16 per month, according to city officials.

Customers saw rate increases last year as well — about 8 percent in the North San Jose-Alviso service area and 12.7 percent in the Evergreen-Edenvale service area.

An additional burden

At its meeting this past week, the council approved increases with little discussion, however Councilmember Maya Esparza said it will be an additional burden to residents.

“Inflation is high, people are getting hammered on in every way,” Esparza said.

She asked for updates on the city’s local water assistance program, designed to provide financial support of up to $2,000 for residents struggling to pay water bills.

Jeff Provenzano, deputy director of environmental services, said the assistance program should be available shortly. Sacred Heart Community Service will be helping people participate in the program.

“Sacred Heart is just now finishing their webpage to begin the enrollment and application process,” Provenzano said. He added other water companies were starting the webpage process.

He said the department is looking at different ways to reach residents about assistance with increasing water bills and other utilities. This week, the council also approved a 4-8 percent increase for garbage rates and a 9 percent increase for sewer services.

All three rate increases saw pushback from local residents, but it constituted less than 1 percent of residents who protested the amount. About 50 percent of residents would have to protest to stop the increase, according to California law.

Contact Jana Kadah at jana@sanjosespotlight.com or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.

This story originally appeared in San Jose Spotlight.