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The water industry and our communities are facing several changes and challenges, including the projected impacts of climate change on our water supplies and increasing regulations that will potentially make it difficult to keep rates affordable. The goal in initiating this independent study is to explore how combining our two neighboring water utilities might encourage efficiencies, reduce costs, improve water supply reliability and enhance customer service.
The study explores trends in the water industry and our communities, such as changing water demand, pressure to keep rates affordable, regulatory change, water supply reliability, and expansion to meet regional needs, and the feasibility for addressing those trends through combination. The analysis included a top-to-bottom review of both water providers, including a comparison of organizational structures, management, customer services, billing, staffing, water operations, capital improvement projects, finances, and water supply. The analysis detailed the benefits and costs of potential combination, as well as options for next steps.
The study was developed with input from the CWD and SSWD Boards of Directors and staff. Staff provided input as part of the 2020 Sacramento Regional Water Utility Collaboration Study (conducted by CWD, SSWD, and five other water providers), which was used as a foundation for the current study.
Customer input avenues have occurred through public meetings of the CWD/SSWD 2x2 Committee, which includes leadership and management from both water providers and has been hosting public meetings since July 2021, and regular Board meeting updates.
A final version of the initial study was accepted on February 21, 2023 and is linked above under "Status" and in our Agenda Center.
The CWD/SSWD 2x2 Committee and the CWD and SSWD Boards of Directors have both reviewed the study and are considering the study is complete. The CWD and SSWD Board of Directors have also directed their staffs to begin a detailed technical analysis of questions and issues raised by the initial study.
After the technical study is completed and reviewed, the Boards of Directors will then determine whether to continue exploring combination opportunities, utilizing the information and data developed by the studies, as well as public and staff input, for continued conversations.
The costs were shared equally by CWD and SSWD.
CWD and SSWD are taking care to undergo a deliberative, public process to explore combination opportunities. To date, this has included public discussions since July 2021 through the CWD/SSWD 2x2 Committee, which includes leadership and management from both water providers, and regular Board meeting reports.
The districts also retained an independent financial consulting firm that specializes in working with government agencies and utilities, to conduct an independent, third-party analysis to explore combination opportunities. The financial consulting firm finalized a study that has been reviewed by both Boards of Directors. Any decisions to move forward will be made after an open process that explores the study’s findings and provides opportunities for input.
There is no mandate that Carmichael Water District customers would receive fluoridated water should the two districts combine.
Background: Fluoride is a naturally occurring element found in most water supplies. Water fluoridation involves increasing the natural fluoride concentration found in drinking water to the optimal level that provides the most benefit for dental health, as prescribed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, community water fluoridation is supported by the American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, U.S. Public Health Service, and the World Health Organization.
SSWD has four separate service areas. Since 2007, Sacramento Suburban Water District (SSWD) has served fluoridated drinking water to the South Service Area only, that resulted from a grant received from the First 5 Commission. The agreement with the First 5 Commission to provide fluoridated drinking water to SSWD’s South Service Area will remain in place at least until 2027. In addition, SSWD has a wholesale water agreement with the City of Sacramento, which fluoridates its water in accordance with California State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Drinking Water standards.
Carmichael Water District is under no mandate to fluoridate its water and does not add fluoride to its water supplies.
You are invited to attend Board meetings and CWD/SSWD 2x2 Committee meetings discussing combination. Agendas and details on how to attend are available in our Agenda Center.