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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:

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Partnership is now in a transition year--an exceptional point in its history when members are shaping the organization from the ground up to both advance water efficiency in California while serving member needs. Learn more by reading our fact sheet and list of frequently asked questions.