The EMWD Plans to Implement Tiered Water Rates

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...
http://www.emwd.org/news/news-archives/news_08/07-11-08_Tiered%20Rates.pdf

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.




26 Comments:

  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.

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  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.

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

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  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!

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  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/

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  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?

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  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...

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  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.

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  9. I am really not liking that they will be looking for moss on the curbs. My street has very poor drainage and even before we bought our house there was moss in front of our house and a few other houses.
    I really dont like that I could be punished for the lack of a decent drainage system in my neighborhood. especially since I am already keeping an eye out for overflow on my property.

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  10. So if my neighbors have 16 people living in the house, how much water do they get? :)

    This would be funnier if it weren't so true.

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  11. to anonymous at 9:58pm 7/31...
    You should water your lawn for 3-5 minutes per station either at night or early in the morning. I would suggest between 9pm and 3am. This will lesson the effects of evaporation and the chance that the water police will catch you. If the water police are only working a few hours I am almost positive they aren't going to be out after dark.

    This plan has good intentions but I think it is going to be impossible to fairly implement it. Also, it sounds as though EMWD threw out an idea and is trying to run with it without putting much money or effort into it. In the end the residence will be screwed.

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  12. "Actually I think this new rule is great"

    I hope I am not your neighbor....

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  13. Water conservation is the way to go. To all the people who fuss over their lawns, why not utilize the space with beautiful sweet smelling drought tolerant plants? There is maintenance with this type of land use but it's more seasonal than the typical mow the lawn every weekend type of maintenance.

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  14. these are all fine suggestions but what are those of us who can't afford to replace the grass the builders put in our yards suppose to do?

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  15. Rules and laws are made because people abuse freedom. If people were more responsible, we wouldn't need these kind of "Orwellian" laws to control our behavior.

    Unfortunately, one of my neighbors is just the kind of guy they make these rules for. If water was not such a rare commodity around here, I would be against this, but since people seem to think it's OK to continue to waste OUR dwindling water supply, I'll do my part to help them enforce it. The answer? "Be Water Wise!"

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  16. I am sure if we all conserved water the rates would go way down, agriculture would be able to increase the amount they use from 40% to 70% so we can fuel our cars with ethenol, we could all have cacti in our front yards for the kids to play in, but my neighbors would be quite unhappy because they would not be able to sit and count how many times my sprinklers went on every day.

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  17. Jeff you are right... a few people always ruin it for the rest of us. I am all for cutting back on watering my lawn and not having water running off my property. What I am opposed to is a plan that had been thrown out with no real idea of how it will be implemented. EMWD may decide that my base is so low that I could not meet it even by keeping a bucket in the shower and using that water when I flush my toilets. They are going to be using a system similar to Edison. I keep my air at 78 to 82 degrees, just like they ask but it is blazing hot out and it still runs a lot. I have energy efficient appliances and light bulbs but I still get reemed every summer month with my bill. Now the same will be happening by EMWD. You do what you are suppose to and you still get screwed, that is what is so infuriating...

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  18. Water runs off my lawn - because my house was built on basically granite and they put sod over it (no top soil) so basically the water runs off. Even if you water for 2 minutes. Stupid. Plus - Im at the end of the street - so I get everyone else's gutter run off. Are they going to check my gutter for moss too? If so - Im in trouble

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  19. "Rules and laws are made because people abuse freedom. If people were more responsible, we wouldn't need these kind of "Orwellian" laws to control our behavior."

    The above statement could be used to justify any rule, because there will always be abusers of any rule that humans can devise.

    Many homeowners in this area live in tract houses with front lawns that were already in place when they bought their homes. Is EMWD making sure that new homes are being built with lawns that comply with their no- runoff policy? Are builders going to be fined if there is runoff and the house is not occupied? There are plenty of these types of houses in my tract.

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  20. So the EMWD is going to take a page from the Stasi handbook and ask people to turn in their neighbors. Nice.

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  21. I can't wait to get a notice from EMWD about runoff water. We had to hire a geologist because we could not figure out why we had so much runoff water. We turned our sprinklers off and still had runoff in certain areas. The results: the runoff water is from all of the houses above us. He recommended we spend the bucks to build a french drain and direct the water into the street drain. This improved the runoff dramatically, but we still have runoff. And no. This does not give us the green light (no pun intended) to turn off our sprinklers. We tried that. Unfortunately, our neighbors runoff does not help our lawn.

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  22. I have a great solution! Since my lawn does not have run off, I should be issued run off credits. Then I could sell my run off credits to those in need.

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  23. Runoff credits! With all the rock gardens in Sun City, folks there could make some good money selling theirs.

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  24. EMWD is so concerned that they aren't getting enough money off of all the track home residents. Have you ever noticed the water stations out by the rural areas? There is one on Menifee Road between Garbani and Scott. This station is there to provide water with all the properties where the wells have run dry! They pay NOTHING. All the residents were given an option to have their water systems connected to the county sewer system at a discounted rate. The home owners opted to take the free water from the water station. They pull in with their Watering trucks, like those used in construction sites, and with their big water reservoirs in the back of their trucks or on trailers. Who do you think is paying for this water? Not the people using it. By the way, the well owners claimed that the building of the Diamond Valley dam was responsible for the wells running dry. Couldn't be because of a 25 year drought, could it? An unbiased geological company researched the claim and found that the DV dam project could not affect the wells.

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  25. well my dumb neighbor leaves his sprinkers on all day about once a month. Today it was so bad, it flooded 2 houses down and came out throught the elctrical boxes. He is a renter and dosnt pay water so he doesnt care. Cant wait to "tattle tail" on him so the owner gets slapped with some fines. shouldnt take too long to get to the $300 fine. I woudl never do it to normal people...but this guy is too much

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  26. Delta (California's Water Supply)is running low.
    Unlike the Cable, Telephone and internet you are not required to pay one month in advance, there is no prepayment as as long as you did not leave bills unpaid there is not even a deposit and most water districts require that for ALL new customers, sure if you develop a poor payment history you will have to pay a deposit as you should.
    For all those who feel its a total racketeering, ask yourself this... if you had to prepay your water, would you be so quick to be wasteful, if you had to prepay your water would you water your grass for 7 minutes each station? Everyone feels well water is a natural resource why do we have to pay for it, well hmmm let's see, there is place called a treatment plant that makes the water drinkable and usable. If you feel that water should be free I implore you go find you nearest watering hole and drink from it keeping in mind that the horse drink there, the dirty animals bathe there, there is possibly urine mixed in the fish and other sea life may be in there. As long as the water has to be treated to make it safe, its going to cost. You have indoor plumbing, it cost to lay those sewer lines so your toilet can be inside you house other wise feel free to dig your ditch and use the bathroom out there. See what the movies never showed you is what happens when that hole gets full, or why the out house was so far away from the house well its because #2 stinks, and urine doesn't smell all that great either.
    So in stead of whining about it, just remember eventually the Delta will be out of water. The State of California doesn't even have it's own water supply anymore, its connected to Sacramento pipeline which is running from Colorado 3-4 States over for water.
    Still think water should be free huh, I guess you think that pipeline didn't cost anything.
    Your concerns are real, but until you have educated yourself or truly looked at what it cost to bring that water into your homes, you will continue to have a lack of regard to the fact that nothing in life is free except this polluted air you are breathing.
    emwd.org has may conservation tips on how to reduce water run off. You have a computer obviously or you would not have had a way to voice you concerns so go there and find solutions empower yourself or keep you complaints to yourself.

    As for tiered rates, its on all your other utilities so why should water be any different the purpose of tiered billing is not to make the customers pay more, its to offset the cost of all the water waste. If you don't go over our baseline, you don't have to pay more.
    The water district is pretty liberal, there are no start up fees, as long as you disconnection notice does not expire there are no fees at all except paying by phone with a rep, and all the utility companies do that, actually every company that accepts payments charge. Yes 70.00 may be steep, but I avoid the charge by being responsible and paying my bill when its due, and when I can't I call and let them know. Yes there may be a hold time, but if I failed to be responsible enough to pay by the due date, didn't pay the past due notice and then still didn't pay by the due date of the disconnection notice, how can I complain, the notice is very clear, don't pay by the due date pay a 70.00 fee.
    I feel for anonymous who lives in an HOA personally... I would not live in an HOA to save my life are they going to pay your run off fines because they demand that you have green grass, their damands are unreasonable and idiotic.

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