Water Rates Process

Water rates cover the cost of providing a reliable supply of high-quality drinking water to the communities of Fremont, Newark and Union City. The District regularly conducts an analysis to ensure water rates accurately reflect the cost of water service. Water Rates were most recently updated in 2019. To view the current rates and fees, visit the District's Water Rates page. 

The District is starting a rates process in 2021. Customers are invited to participate in the financial workshops scheduled for August 26, September 23, and October 28. Workshop information, times, and how to participate are available at the District's Agenda Center. Meeting notices are posted at least three days before meetings.

Determining Rates & Charges

As a public agency, ACWD cannot take in funds beyond the costs of providing its service. The District periodically conducts an analysis to ensure water rates accurately reflect the cost of water service. The District also uses outside expert consultants to ensure that its rates are properly determined. Following a series of public workshops, the District notifies customers and the public about any proposed rate adjustments through various means:

  • A formal notice of any proposed rate adjustments will be mailed to all addresses within the District’s service boundaries. The formal notice contains the details of a public hearing where the revisions are proposed to be adopted by the Board after a formal 45 day public input period. View more information on District transparency.
  • Postings to the District’s website and social media sites
  • Email notifications to customers who have subscribed to receive board meeting notices
  • Press Releases
  • Printed advertisements in local newspapers.

The District continuously looks for and implements ways to minimize costs. These include delaying capital improvement projects when feasible, reducing staffing levels, and using the District’s diverse water supplies to maximize use of lowest-cost water. Cost controls have helped keep the District’s water rates consistently in the lower half of 30 Bay Area water agencies. You can view a chart that illustrates ACWD’s current average water bill in comparison to other Bay Area water agencies.

The District also continuously evaluates new revenue sources such as grant funds, and has secured about $18 million in grant funds and reimbursements in the past year, primarily for mandated fishery projects in Alameda Creek.

Understanding the Current Water Rates - 2018-2019 Water Rates Update

The current rates were established at the conclusion of a process that began in early 2018 and concluded on February 7th, 2019, when the Board adopted updated rates and charges. ACWD conducted a series of financial workshops, community meetings, and Board Meetings to review presentations and analysis and deliberate on rate proposals.

Board Meetings

December 13, 2018: At this Board Meeting, District staff presented proposed development charges and water rates based on the discussions that occurred over the series of financial workshops during 2018. The Board authorized staff to provide formal notice to the community of proposed rate increases. View the formal rate increase notice. Proposed adjustments to a number of miscellaneous fees and the District's Customer Assistance Program were also presented. The Board also authorized the Notice of Proposed Increase in Water Rates and New Water Shortage Emergency Stage Rates. View the Presentation from the December 13, 2018 Board Meeting.

February 7, 2019: At this Board meeting, the Board held a Public Hearing on the proposed rates and charges. District staff made a presentation on  the proposed rates and charges and the Board received comments from members of the community. At the conclusion of the Public Hearing, the Board approved a 2-year water rate increase -- 4 percent beginning March 1, 2019 and 4 percent beginning March 1, 2020, to both the bimonthly service charge and water consumption charge. The Board also approved the water shortage emergency stage rates. View the presentation from the February 7, 2019 Public Hearing.

Financial Workshops

February 22, 2018: This workshop focused on Facilities Connection Charges, which are one-time charges assessed on new connections to the water system. View the presentation from the February 22 workshop.

April 26, 2018: This workshop included follow-up from the February 22 workshop, a general overview of water rates, and an evaluation of water rate policy objectives. View the presentation from the April 26 workshop.

May 22, 2018: This workshop reviewed updates to the District’s budget for FY 2018/19 and the Capital Improvement Program. An update was also provided on the District’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure project. View the presentation from the May 22 workshop.

July 26, 2018: This workshop focused on water rate structure options and how to balance the District’s policy objectives of revenue stability and affordability. View the presentation from the July 26 workshop.

August 15, 2018: This workshop focused on financial planning scenarios. View the presentation from the August 15 workshop.

October 25, 2018: This workshop covered financial planning scenarios, water rates and development charges options, public outreach, and the Proposition 218 protest process. View the presentation from the October 25 workshop.

Community Meetings

ACWD hosted two community meetings to inform the community about future changes to water rates and the projects and programs supported by your rate dollars. These meetings were hosted in an open house forum allowing the public to visit multiple information stations and talk one-on-one with District staff. The meetings took place on January 16th, 2019, and January 30th, 2019. 

There were a number of frequently asked questions by customers during the rates process. View the rate increase FAQ document.

2020 Water Rates Process

In 2020 ACWD completed a new rates process, with the Board ultimately declining to increase water rates. This process also included a series of workshops and Board meetings.

Financial Workshops

August 27, 2020: The District held a financial workshop to start a new rates process to review the allocation between fixed service charges and commodity charges in collecting revenues, the charges for dedicated fire service lines, and to provide an update on the District’s current financial status. View the presentation from the August 20 workshop.

October 22, 2020: The District held a financial  workshop to continue the discussion regarding the District’s current and projected future financial status and potential water rates and charges increase. The workshop was conducted by webinar. Customers were invited to participate virtually to join the discussion and to learn more about the District’s finances, rates and charges, as well as the cost-of-service studies that the District is conducting to guide the rate setting process. View the agenda and presentation from the October 22 workshop. 

Board Meetings:

Following Board deliberation at workshops in August and October, District staff prepared a water rates proposal with a 2 percent increase effective March 1, 2021 and another 2 percent increase effective March 1, 2022. After deliberation in the December 10th Board meeting, the Board determined not to move forward with a rate increase.

Additional Documents

The full report on the water rates proposal from the District's financial consultant is available. The report includes two appendices. 

  1. Appendix A, which is the updated water rate study report prepared by the District's consultant in 2017.
  2. Appendix B is the underlying cost of service study that was prepared by the financial consultant in 2015. 
  3. ACWD Water Rate Update Memorandum Supplement 2017. 

The full report from the District's financial consultant on proposed fees for new developments connecting to the District's water system is also available.

Contact Information

If you should have any questions or comments about ACWD's rates and charges, please contact us by calling 510.668.4200 or emailing our rates team.