For more than a decade, the customers of Sativa Los Angeles County Water District, with an approximately 6,837 population served through 1,643 active service connections, endured poor water quality and service from their water board until East Los Angeles area elected officials courageously acted (AB 1577, Gipson) to dissolve the district and assign Los Angeles County Public Works as an administrator to stabilize the district and find a new owner that would provide excellent service to its customers with affordable rates.
Public Works issued a Request for Proposal for interested utilities in compliance with the strict competitive procurement rules. Public Works reviewed proposals, watched presentations from candidates, and ultimately selected Suburban Water Systems’ proposal because its experience best addressed the concerns of Sativa’s customers that, included:
- Affordable rates
- Excellent customer service
- Safe and clean water
Suburban’s proposal included a commitment to invest $8.5 million in infrastructure required to provide adequate supply, fire protection, and metered service to the Sativa customers. Suburban has the engineering and water quality capacity and experience to deliver these projects.
Suburban and Public Works entered an Asset Purchase Agreement and Operations to acquire the district’s assets. Suburban provided contract services to operate and maintain the Sativa water system for Public Works until the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved the acquisition. Suburban built on the county’s great work to stabilize the system and improve service to customers.
The CPUC approved the acquisition by Decision No. 22-04-010. Public Works and Suburban closed the deal on December 22, 2022. Suburban immediately lowered the Sativa customer’s monthly fixed bill from $67.84/unit to $62.00/unit. In addition, Sativa’s qualifying low-income customers immediately had access to Suburban’s existing Low-Income Rate Assistance (LIRA) program that provides an $8.76/mo. discount.
Sativa’s customers will be charged the same low rates as Suburban’s Whittier / La Mirada customers starting January 1, 2024, when the CPUC approves Suburban’s General Rate Case Application 23-01-001.
We are excited to become a long-term community partner. Suburban has been actively involved in the Sativa water system community hosting numerous events, including town hall meetings to provide updates to customers, food drives, and career fairs. Suburban hired Sativa’s remaining employees and is very proud to say that a Sativa customer has joined our Customer Service team and relishes the opportunity to serve their community.
“The Sativa water system story is a fantastic example of how an Investor-Owned Utility (IOU) can leverage its experience and scale to provide affordable, safe, and reliable water service and respectful customer service to customers formally served by a troubled water system.” Craig Gott, President, Suburban Water Systems
“Suburban is one of two IOUs [Investor-Owned Utilities] in the WRD [Water Replenishment District] with a water rate that is lower than the WRD average rate. In fact, Suburban’s rate is significantly lower than the current Sativa rate, but it is variable, while Sativa’s rate is flat.”- Source: “The Human Right to Water in Poor Communities of Color: Southern Los Angeles County,”
UCLA Water Resources Group, Luskin Center for Innovation, 1/18/21