SJ explores tiered water rate options

Photo by Mary Ann Morris / The Valley Chronicle
Lynn Merrill of Lynn Merrill and Associates presents a tiered water rate proposal to the San Jacinto City Council Jan. 3.

■ By Mary Ann Morris / Editor

The San Jacinto City Council held a special workshop Jan. 3 to explore a tiered rate plan to help with water conservation efforts and to produce a tiered rate that is fair to residential household users and will hold water-wasters accountable in the form of higher rates.
PowerPoint presentations were offered to the Council by Tom Ash, senior environmental resources planner with Inland Empire Utilities District, and Lynn Merrill of Lynn Merrill and Associates, a consulting firm whose clientele includes municipal governments.
Efficiency-based rates, or rates that increase after a specific allotment of water is used, were discussed as options for the city’s water service.
“We are currently in the sixth year of drought, and while the rains have been helpful and they are predicting more rain, we still have an obligation to conserve what we have,” said Merrill. “If you agree with the framework of a tiered rate structure, then we will bring a formal rate study to you in February with the request for a public hearing, which could occur as early as April.”
Tiered rates are designed to provide each water customer with exactly the amount of water necessary to meet both sanitary and irrigation needs.
Typically, said Merrill, rates are divided into three tiers. Tier 1 is the base household indoor use for domestic and sanitary purposes including cooking, drinking water, showers and baths, and laundry, based on 55 gallons per capita per day. Tier 2 is used to measure external irrigation and other outdoor uses, and Tier 3 charges comprise water usage over the allocated budget, which are considered to be wasteful.
One billing unit is equal to 100 cubic feet of water, which is equal to 748 gallons of water. Last year, San Jacinto residential water customers used 105,545 gallons. Total water consumption throughout San Jacinto in 2015 was 690,997,164 gallons, enough to fill 34,550 swimming pools.
Several rate options were discussed.
“Ratemaking is like sausage making, it takes a lot of different spices and a lot of different approaches to get the right mix,” said Merrill.
The motion carried, and the rate study will continue.

Graphic by Mary Ann Morris / The Valley Chronicle
This PowerPoint slide shows the Summary of Rates paid by San Jacinto water customers, as well as proposed figures for the tiered rates. This discussion will be continued next month.

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