How is the District paying for the cost of the Water Meter Project? In 2009, the District applied for and received a $4.387 million grant through the State Revolving Fund (SRF). The funds were provided via the American Recovery Act and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. Subsequent phases have been funded in the form of low-interest loans from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund through California State Water Resources Control Board and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The District could have required that all unmetered customers pay to have meters installed by a specific date, but has instead sought long term funding to lessen the financial impact on the District’s water customers.
Metered customers pay a Meter Water Service Charge, instead of a flat rate, and an additional charge reflecting water consumption. Newly metered customers will pay for consumption at a flat rate during a one year education period, during which time bills will show water consumption to inform customers as to what their bill would be based on consumption. Most importantly, this system allows consumers to monitor their own water use and conserve water, which is a valuable commodity in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Customers with extensive landscaping will likely see their water bills increase during the summer months. That is the nature of volumetric billing and why the California legislature has mandated water meters as a conservation tool. For more on billing rates please see our Water Bill Calculator or visit our rate page on the STPUD’s website.
Due to the overall number of meters that must be installed and the phasing of the project, there will be occasions where customers may feel it is unfair that they are billed at a metered rate while a neighbor is not yet metered and pays a flat rate. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent this situation and make the transition period equitable to all customers while complying with California law. Because it will take a number of years for the Project to install all the meters, some customers will be on a metered rate and others will be subject to the flat rate until metered. In addition, due to the long Sierra winters and grading restrictions, the District can only install meters during the May – October timeframe, increasing the number of years required to complete the Project. The District is working to meter complete neighborhoods at once to minimize the number of instances where one property is metered while an adjoining property is not.
Water meter installation is NOT designed to increase water rates. The District’s rate structure is designed to be “revenue-neutral.” It is illegal for a public agency to use profits from water to pay for any other services and we do not anticipate obtaining any additional revenue from this change. However, for individual customers, installation of a water meter may or may not be mean water bills will remain the same, because water bills are determined by individual water use.
Current metered residential data for the United States indicates average water consumption equates to approximately 99 gallons per individual per day. Average or per capita water use data is difficult to develop in a community such as South Lake Tahoe due to the high percentage of second-home ownership and highly variable consumption of full time and part time residences. Also keep in mind, with Sierra weather, virtually no irrigation occurs between October and April in most years. Therefore, peak water usage will occur between the May and September timeframe with the remainder of the year is predominately domestic use (cooking, flushing toilets, showers, etc.). As the District gathers more data from installed water meters more Tahoe-specific data will be available.
In comparing the District’s use to other areas, the average California citizen uses around 109 gallons per day, with wide variations across the state. For example, in the Bay Area, the number is around 55 gallons per day. In Sacramento the per capita water consumption is 106 gallons per day. In South Lake Tahoe the per capita water consumption is 66 gallons per day. Generally speaking personal water use is highest in central valley cities, where a family may use over 300 gallons of water per person each day. In some water-conscious coastal cities, such as Marin County or Monterey, water use is as low as 46 gallons per person per day.
Please visit our Water Conservation pages for more information on how you can reduce the amount of water you use.
Questions/Problems/Comments ~ Call our Water Meter Installation Project Coordinator for additional information: Jason Brand at (530) 544-6474 ext. 6260.
If you are unable to reach our Project Coordinator or have urgent issues, such as a blocked driveway or overnight water outage, please contact our customer service at (530) 544-6474.