Carlsbadistan Water Rates On The Up

by The Editors on June 25, 2009

After a special meeting June 23, 2009 between the Carlsbad City Council and the Carlsbad Municipal Water District Board of Directors it was decided that water and wastewater rates for the city will go up 10 percent beginning August 1, 2009.

Nearly 74 percent of the water rate increase is directly related to increases in water purchase costs. The cost of water is increasing because of long term drought conditions along the Colorado River and legal restrictions on water that comes from Northern California. These two imported water sources make up 100 percent of the Carlsbad Municipal Water District’s supply. A small portion of the increase is also needed to maintain and operate the water system.

Follow the jump for all the details.
Water and wastewater rates to increase Aug. 1 – conservation encouraged

CARLSBAD, Calif. – Water and wastewater rates will increase about 10 percent or an average of $7.56 a month for most Carlsbad residents, based on decisions at the June 23 joint special meeting of the Carlsbad City Council and Carlsbad Municipal Water District Board of Directors. The rate increases go into effect Aug. 1, with customers seeing changes in their monthly utility bill starting in September.

Nearly 74 percent of the water rate increase is directly related to increases in water purchase costs. The cost of water is increasing because of long term drought conditions along the Colorado River and legal restrictions on water that comes from Northern California. These two imported water sources make up 100 percent of the Carlsbad Municipal Water District’s supply. A small portion of the increase is also needed to maintain and operate the water system.

In addition to the new water rates, the Carlsbad Municipal Water District board adopted a new billing rate structure, known as tiered rates. Under the tiered rate system, customers will pay one rate for up to a certain amount of water. Water used above that amount will be billed at a higher rate, similar to how electricity rates are structured. Residents and business representatives who attended recent water district public meetings said they thought this approach was the fairest way to encourage conservation without punishing those who are already conserving. The amount of water in the lowest tier is 12 units, the amount of water needed for essential indoor water use, such as cooking, cleaning and drinking.

The district recently declared a Level 2 Drought Alert, which goes into effect July 1. Under a Level 2 Drought Alert, watering is limited to certain days of the week, and several water conservation measures become mandatory.

The current residential water rate per unit (1 unit = 748 gallons) is $2.12 per unit, the new rate will be $2.29 per unit (for 1-12 units used.) The cost of water per unit will increase to $2.95 for 13 units per month and above. For each unit used above 21 units per month the cost per unit will be $4.02. Please see the chart below for more detailed information.

New Carlsbad Residential Water Rates*
Monthly Delivery Charge Flat Rate $16.78
Tier 1 0-12 units $2.29
Tier 2 13-20 units $2.95
Tier 3 21 units or more $4.02
Typical Water Bill** $44.26

*Rate based on a typical household using a 5/8 inch meter. Delivery charges and cost vary according to meter size.
** Based on use of 12 units of water.

Business and irrigation customers are charged a flat rate per unit for water. The new rate for business customers will be $2.64 per unit, and $2.97 per unit for irrigation customers. Changes to recycled water rates and agricultural rates will be considered by the water district board in July.

Wastewater rates will increase 9 percent or approximately $3.28 for the average single family home. Wastewater is billed at a flat rate for residential customers. Rates for multi-family developments and commercial users are billed based on water usage.

Also on June 23, the water district board approved conversion to a new Fixed Network Automated Meter Reading system. Currently, all meters are read manually by a meter service worker. Under this new system meter readings will be electronically transmitted to a central location. This new system will allow for more accurate readings, enhanced customer service, real-time leak detection, increased revenue recovery, and decreased staffing and vehicle needs. The cost of installing and implementing the system will be recovered in approximately 11 years, with continued savings in the years following. The Vallecitos Water District and Olivenhain Municipal Water District, which serve portions of the City of Carlsbad, have already implemented AMR technology.

About 85 percent of the city gets water services from the Carlsbad Municipal Water District, a subsidiary district of the City of Carlsbad. The southeastern portion is served by the Vallecitos Water District and the Olivenhain Municipal Water District. The majority of the city receives wastewater collection service from the City of Carlsbad, with the Leucadia Wastewater District and the Vallecitos Water District serving the southeastern portions.

For more information, visit the Carlsbad Municipal Water District’s Web page at www.carlsbadca.gov/water/ or call 760-438-2722.

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