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I’m a Calistoga resident who does her best to conserve the water at our house. I even proposed (to) the city at the time we remodeled our house about 10 years ago to install a grey water system. At that time, I was told it was not legal and if I did so, I could be fined. Sigh.

The current city proposal to raise our water rates (both the rate of the water unit and the waste water fee) is just astronomical and unfair for residents.

I understand that the infrastructure is in dear need of an upgrade. I’m ready to pay my share of it. Yet, it has to be reasonable, fair and sustainable. In my mind, it is the duty of a city to provide drinkable water to its residents at a fair price. We are not talking millesime Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. We are talking about a basic commodity.

Paul Knoblich’s projection about our residential water bill being, by the end of the proposed 5-year increase period, as much as his property taxes made me attend the Jan. 9 City Council meeting.

I’m urging the city to come back with a revised draft that follows three ideas: The users shall be the payers – water conservation incentive – improvement of the quality of our water.

The users shall be the payers. What I mean by this, is that the information provided by the city in their Prop. 218 pamphlet shows clearly that commercial users, and especially restaurants and spa/resorts are the big water users. They should bear the vast majority of the water and waste management increases (Capex and Opex).

Antoinette Maillard clearly showed during the Jan. 9 meeting, with numbers in hand that the small users, like you and me would, with the current city proposal, in fact be proportionally paying for water being used by big water consumers. Something is wrong with this picture.

Say no to a regressive water rate increase.

The city wants additional income? What about raising the Transient Occupancy Tax by 1 percent? I heard the Executive Director of Calistoga Chamber of Commerce tonight stating that it was not a deterrent for our hospitality sector. My understanding that a 1 percent TOT increase would, at this point, bring in somewhere around $450,000 into the general city fund.

In our climate change environment, could our city take the lead showing it cares for the environment and add a fair component for those of us doing water conservation?

Last, could we also talk about how the proposed change to the infrastructure and maintenance would improve the quality of our city water? It is not a water that I feel is safe for drinking!

Finally as a comparison:

- In St. Helena, current rates are: $5.88/unit – waste water residential single family: $48.04. Results after their proposed 5-year increase are still way less than our Calistoga water rates.

- In Oakland, a city that has far more water users and also a far bigger infrastructure to build and to maintain, the water unit for residents is close to $3.65 per unit and the waste water fee is less than $27 per two months. And the water is delicious.

Make your voice heard. Bring your concerns and constructive proposals. Talk/write to our favorite City Council members, to our mayor, to our city manager. Talk to your neighbors, friends. Check/post on our local Next Door forum.

And show up for the next City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. at the Community Center.

Sophie Gulling