By Elizabeth Zach, RCAC staff writer

In response to California’s lingering drought, which continues to threaten the state’s crucial agricultural economy, state water regulators may force utilities to sell less water and raise customer rates.

Water charges are, for now, affordable, according to the credit ratings agency Fitch, but a rapid rise in rates could lead to a ratepayer revolt, such as in the Yorba Linda Water District where last month residents rejected a $25 per month rate increase.

“Water rates have risen faster than incomes,” Fitch commented in a review. “If this trend continues, (we) expect that overall rate flexibility – the ability to raise rates – could be tested.”

Last month, too, California regulators recommended more irrigation oversight and a permanent ban on over-watering urban lawns. Despite these measures, Fitch expects California’s water districts to remain stable.

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