CHICO, Calif. -

Effective August 29, water rates in Chico and Willows will increase for the average homeowner by between $7 to $8 per month.  Cal Water will retroactively charge the higher rates back to January because the matter had been in litigation.

However, Cal Water will also charge the retroactive rate increase to new customers who had purchased a home anytime in 2014.

"This is set up by the commission and we're going by the rules of the commission," said Pete Bonacich, the acting district manager of Cal Water. 

Bonacich acknowledged that new Cal Water customers may be upset. "Well, it's probably not fair," he said. "You got me between a rock and a hard place."

"I don't make the rules," said Bonacich. "I can only live by them." 

When he was asked if a new homeowner will be forced to pay for water they didn't use, Bonacich said, "It appears that way."

Cal Water will spread out the retroactive rate increases over an 18-month period to lessen the impact.