NBC120427graphwatercosts The Conservancy is served well by the Natomas Central Mutual Water Company. In fact, because share ownership of the mutual company is attached to the land, the Conservancy finds itself an 11 percent owner of the company. Mutuals are interesting organizations, much like cooperatives. You own the upside but you also own the downside.
As urbanization crowds out the Water Company’s customers, it has fewer and fewer remaining water customers from which to spread out administrative expenses. When this happens, there is upward pressure on water costs. But water is essential to the Conservancy’s operations, and out-of-control water costs would surely bring about some pain and agony. Even when the Conservancy could afford very expensive water, other farm landowners may not be able to, and this would be very hurtful to some of the NBHCP’s “Covered Species” such as the giant garter snake and the Wester pond turtle, among others.
Though its costs are high when compared with other water purveyors in the Sacramento Valley, the Water Company has done a good job of holding costs down in the face of advancing urbanization. The accompanying graph we assembled for the Conservancy’s Board of Directors tells the story. High costs, but moderated increases over the decade or so.
How long can they keep holding costs down? What happens in the long run? What will the Conservancy’s water costs be 10 years from now? Ultimately, the Water Company will need to team up, partner up and maybe expand its water sales to others. Ideas?