The EMWD Plans to Implement Tiered Water Rates

The Eastern Municipal Water District will implement a tiered rate structure next year, likely to beg...

watering the sidewalkThe Eastern Municipal Water District will implement a tiered rate structure next year, likely to begin March 2009. The more water you use, the higher the rate you'll pay. Right now, everyone is charged a uniform rate of $1.91 for every 748 gallons used.

The district will take a look at each residence, count how many people are living there, how big the property is, and figure out how much you're supposed to use.

The EMWD will also adjust that amount based on the weather and season.

So if you go above your budgeted limit they'll charge you a higher rate. But if you use less than the limit, they'll still charge you the base rate.

The district will implement this in a two-phase process. Beginning March 2009 with the first phase, the district will identify "customer groups" and come up with average family sizes and lot sizes, and a base rate for each group. In the months following, they'll come up individual rates for each specific residence, and implement those rates by January 2010.

I contacted Peter Odencrans, the media contact for the EMWD to get some more specifics. I asked if the district will be taking into account residences with swimming pools. He said the district did some studies on this and found that the typical family swimming pool uses up about as much as water as a similarly sized patch of lawn. Sounds like they won't factor in your swimming pool.

I also asked how they planned to figure out how many people live in each residence. They don't have a plan to figure that out just yet. They also don't plan to hire any extra employees, therefore they won't be spending a lot of money to figure this out. I asked if they might be including a questionnaire in our water bills, but he again stated that the district doesn't have a plan on this yet.

Another question I asked was how the district will define "customer groups" for the first phase implementation. Odencrans didn't quite have an answer on that either. I wondered if these group were defined by geographic region, current usage, or what.

Presently, the average residence across the district uses about 13,464 gallons of water each month, which is equal to 18 billing units. 1 unit equals 748 gallons. If you look at your water bill, you'll see that the EMWD charges you by the number of "billing units".

So, if you're currently using more than 18 units per month, should you be concerned about getting hit with higher rates? Don't know. Larger properties, and larger families will warrant more billing units. You could be living by yourself in a single-wide trailer and find that 18 units per month is too much. But if you're a family of four, living in a 2,000 sq ft home, on a 6,000 sq ft lot, and you're using 40 billing units per month, then you might have cause for concern.

You can read more about this here...

Stop Water Runoff Policy

The EMWD also sent out a friendly reminder yesterday that beginning September 1, they'll be enforcing their new water runoff policy.

The policy is that if they see watering running off of your residence, and into the gutter, they're going to stiff you with some penalties.

Here's the warnings and fines...

  • 1st violation: Written warning

  • 2nd violation: Final written warning

  • 3rd violation: $100 surcharge on customer's water bill

  • 4th violation: $200 surcharge on customer's water bill

  • 5th or more violations: $300 surcharge on customer's water bill
I asked Peter Odencrans how they plan to enforce this new policy. He said, "That's the $64,000 question". All they plan to have for the time being is one guy who will spend eight hours a month, driving through neighborhoods looking for water runoff. Considering the district covers an area that reaches Moreno Valley, Hemet, and Temecula, it doesn't sound like they'll be citing many violators.

Odencrans went on to say that they'll be looking for obvious signs, such as moss growing in the gutter.

He also said people are welcome to report their neighbors.


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  1. Great article Steve. Thanks for the info. I like that they are increasing rates on what you use and then get you for runoff too. Wonder how the housing market effects their income as far as new customers, houses sitting not using water, no new building permits,etc.. not so sure this is directly related to supply issues rather than less demand.

  2. I imagine like any other utility, the more people conserve, the less money the utility earns. But there are other issues going on. California is already at its limit on how much water it can draft from the Colorado River. And the amount of water the Metropolitan Water District is taking from the San Joaquin Delta was slashed by 40% to save the life of a smelt.

    Then, we have people migrating into California. And if they're not buying homes, then I don't know where they're living. But I know they gotta use water.

  3. I wonder if the RICO act can apply to these guy's? Talk about a racket.

  4. I've already received two notices about water run off. I was watering my property once a day, about 7 minutes per section in my front yard. Don't think that this is excessive, if it is, please someone let me know.

    I have a very large side yard that is all grass and has to be watered with the motorized sprinklers that move back and forth. It took two stations in order to get the full grass watered. My property is designed so that all water runoff from the back runs out to the front lawn and then out two the curb. So what am I suppose to do. If I water my grass less time, it is going to turn brown. (by the way, already got a notice from my association in February because there were too many brown blades of grass between the green blades and I was told to fertilize my grass within 20 days or I would be fined) Gotta love that one! Then soon after I received my first runoff notice from EMWD. It's a lose lose situation for me that I can't win.

    But just the other morning I was leaving my house around 9am, my sprinklers had just gone on and as I was driving thru my complex I saw an EMWD truck with two men reading the meters. I then realized that my sprinklers were always going on the same time every morning and it probably was always right when the monthly water meter check was being done. Hence, my two notices for overflow because my sprinklers were just on. So I changed the timer on my sprinklers to start earlier, cut my time down a little, and added a second cycle for later in the day. Hopefully this works because I think my next step is to get that awful $100 fine. YIKES!

  5. "He also said people are welcome to report their neighbors."

    Come on, is this joker for real? I understand the one post about the run off from the back runs to the front drain. I think it is silly to fine u over a small amount of water, and why are they going to cite you when u are paying for the water anyways. Total rackett/

  6. My lawn is sloped toward the sidewalk so even if I turn it on for a couple of minutes water starts running over the sidewalk and into the gutter. That's pretty much how it is for all of the houses in my tract. Also, a policy of "welcoming" people to snitch on each other reminds me of George Orwell's "1984" where your neighbors have become "Big Brother", in this case "Big Neighbor". You better not look at your neighbor's dog the wrong way or they might call the water police. The policy, in its current form, is just asking to be abused. Why not mandate builders to implement water conserving
    (synthetic turf, drought resistant plants) features in new developments while at the same time giving incentives (not punishments) for current homeowners to make the switch?

  7. Actually I think this new rule is great.... I have a neighbor who waters their lawn like 3-4 times a day and there is a ton of runoff.... I just dont understand this... They need to irrigate their grass (get a tool from home depot and put holes in your grass so the water soaks in instead or running off....) The average lawn should only need watering 2 times a day for only about 3-4 minutes... The shrubs only need water 1 time a day every other day for about 2-3 minutes... If you fertilize your grass with a weed and feed fertilizer that is only about 10-12 dollars then your grass will stay green.... If people would just do this they wouldnt need as much water.... We all need to learn to conserve water and everything else for this matter... We are such a watedful generation.... It is just unreal.... I would definetly report a neighbor to help conserve.... Not only would it conserve it would lower their bill... I do think that if the water district is going to warn they should also in the letter include ways to help your grass as I have above.... That wouldnt be tooo much to ask...

  8. I didn't mean to say the EMWD will be relying neighbors to report each other. Odencrans only brought that up as a possible solution. Considering the water district won't be hiring any water cops, I'm not sure how they plan to enforce the water runoff policy effectively.