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Sustainable Clean Water Funding through Collaboration and Partnership

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The City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation (Sanitation) owns and operates a wastewater system that serves more than four million people. The system includes four water reclamation and wastewater treatment plants, 6700 miles of sewers, and 44 pumping plants. The majority of the funding for this Clean Water Program (CWP) comes from user fees based on wastewater flows and strengths.

In 2010, Sanitation began the process of evaluating adjustments to the user fees to meet future program needs. The most recent adjustments were adopted in 2005, covering five fiscal years, the first time the program had received a multi-year rate adjustment. Historically, rate adjustments were driven by legal and regulatory requirements for system upgrades. This time, Sanitation planned to establish rates that would support sustainable investment in the CWP that accurately reflected its perpetual nature.

In October 2011, the Los Angeles City Council voted 13-0 to authorize sending notices to all customers of a ten-year series of rate adjustments. This was the culmination of more than one year's worth of collaborative efforts between Sanitation and a variety of stakeholders. A broadbased group spoke in favor of this issue at the council meetings, including representatives from the regulatory, environmental, business and neighborhood communities.

This report will describe the challenges encountered by Sanitation, the techniques used to build the coalition of supporters, and how this collaboration resulted in unanimous support of a longterm rate plan in difficult economic times. While the focus of these partnerships was the rate adjustments, Sanitation expects to see long-term benefits from the affiliations that were created during this process. This report will detail the latest chapter of Sanitation's culture of partnership that began almost 15 years ago with our stakeholder-driven Integrated Resources Plan.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-01-01

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