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The Community Services District board is looking into charging more for the water residents use during the summer months and establishing pricing tiers so big water users will either pay a premium or mend their water-wasting ways.

The goal is to conserve water.

The district held the second in a series of pricing workshops this week. At the first workshop, in late July, a consultant discussed factors to be considered in setting rates. Directors and staff responded by selecting their top priorities -- efficient water use, spreading costs fairly, predictability of rates and maintaining the district's revenues.

The CSD diverts water from the Cosumnes River from November through May, and residents rely on water stored in Lake Calero during the dry months. With more than half the community's water used for watering landscape, this means peak demand for water coincides with the community's dependence on stored water.

It's a simple relationship -- lower water usage means higher lake levels during the dry months.

At present, of the three drinking water reservoirs, Calero, Chesbro and Clementia, only Calero is drawn down to meet the community's water needs. The drawdown is about 15 feet in normal years, according the CSD's Integrated Water Master Plan.

Fluctuations in lake levels became an issue during the ongoing debate over development. Ted Hart, a member of the Rancho Murieta Development Concerned Citizens Committee, has said at CSD meetings that lake levels are the key to getting buy-in from residents for conservation measures. Others insist lake drawdown shouldn't be allowed to exceed 18 inches.

The current rate structure is divided into commercial and residential rates. For residential customers, the base rate is $22.40 a month, while the base rate for commercial users varies. The volume rate for use over and above that is the same for both -- 0.0092 cents per cubic foot.

At Tuesday's workshop, the directors rejected using categories of lots to structure rates since the size difference between a circle lot and an estate lot can be eliminated through exclusive use agreements and landscaping permits.

Instead, the board looked at making average indoor usage a component of a residential rate structure, with usage above that level subject to a higher rate.

Seasonal rates are also being considered. Directors likened this alternative to winter and summer electric rates.

At the first workshop, financial analyst Shawn Koorn of HDR Engineering Inc. told directors that price hikes don't produce dramatic cutbacks in water use, and usage tends to creep back up over two or three years.

For maximum effectiveness, conservation pricing should be combined with an education effort, he said.

The board plans to include conservation pricing in the 2008-2009 budget.

The district has undertaken a feasibility study of recycled water use for landscape irrigation and this possibility will figure in future workshop discussions.

The next conservation pricing workshop is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Nov. 27 at the CSD Building.

The slides presented at Tuesday's workshop and a workshop schedule are available here.

Ryan Fogleman's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 125
Post rating: 0

Troy vs. Sparta

Anyone remember the story of the Trojan War ? Anyone remember why Laocoön was killed ?

Why does this all sound so familiar ? Tongue out  Let me get this straight, we are going to raise rates in order to dissuade people from wasting water ?

Could there be "other" issues why yet ANOTHER rate increase is being considered? Does external oversight sound like a good idea to anyone ?

Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
Post rating: 470


Too obscure for me.

Are you saying it's purely for revenue purposes? I don't think so. the community is up in arms over draw-down of the lakes. This is a potentially effective partial response (reducing the rooftop cap and implementing purple pipe irrigation to stop wasting drinking water on lawns would also help a TON). Giving people a reason to think about just how much unnecessary irrigation they do will help. I have neighbors who run their sprinklers incessantly, helping keep Laguna Joaquin full. Rising gas prices make people think about getting a hybrid. Paying a premium for excessive water use makes people think about reprogramming the sprinklers.

I don't see the hand of the Trilateral Commission in this. Do you? :-)

Ryan Fogleman's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 125
Post rating: 0

Ah..partly true. But rising

Ah..partly true. But rising gas prices, making people think about buying a hybrid, without the thought of the coal burning required to create that electricity is nothing more than a slick triangulation. I have absolutely ZERO faith that threatening people to pay more for their water, will in any way affect their watering patterns. But I think we are attacking the construction methodologies of the horse, instead of the horse itself.


Anyway, far too serious for a Friday. That you I smell from across the riverTongue out  ?

Myrna Solomon's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 427
Post rating: 745

Wasting water

Myrna Solomon

I would like to hear more about this idea of tiered pricing. When I do my exercise and walk the streets of Rancho, I see many home owners who waste our precious water by running their sprinklers way to long. If I had a wish list, I'd wish that more people would do away with their lawns and put in draught resistant plants and use a drip system. Since that won't happen, this might be the next best thing. However, in a draught year, it would require mandatory cutbacks of watering on certain days, and penalties if it is disregarded. As I understand it, there is nothing in place now to stop anyone from running their water non stop.

Myrna Solomon

Beth Buderus's picture
Joined: 08/03/2007
Posts: 926
Post rating: 706

Education is the key

I think educating the residents on how and when to water is really the key. I agree with you Myrna, I see water running down the streets from people who leave their sprinklers on for far too long.


The problem is, even If CSD or even RMA sent out a letter/flyer explaining how and when to water I could probably almost guaranty you that a majority of residents will not even read it and if they do, they will not act on it.


People need to realize that you shouldn't water after the temperature reaches 80 degrees and watering for shorter periods of time more frequently so that the water can sink in vs. just running off.


During the summer (especially when the days are over 100) we run the sprinklers around 9pm for 5 or 10 minutes and then again around 9am for 5 or 10 minutes. If it's 70's or 80's then only once a day at 9pm.


Additionally, I think there ought to be a winter penalty for those residents who do not turn off their sprinkler system during the wet months!!!!!

Bobbi Belton's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 275
Post rating: 442


Myrna, Beth, and all concerned residents: Please try to attend one or more of the Conservation Pricing/Recylced (purple pipe) Water workshops CSD is having regarding these issues. Rm.com has the entire meeting schedule available. The next workshop, dealing again with Conservation Pricing, is scheduled for Tuesday, November 27, from 8:30 - 10:30 a.m. at the CSD Board Meeting Room.

The meetings go through early April; the last two will be held at 7 p.m. to accomodate those whose schedules are not able to deal with a morning session.

The Board genuinely needs to hear the comments and concerns of its ratepayers. If you cannot attend, you can contact each of the Directors by e-mail by accessing the CSD website (www.ranchomurietacsd.com) .

Sometimes when virtually no one attends, a feeling may arise that the five you have elected can unilaterally make a decision, as non-participation carries with it an assumption that "we can do no wrong."

I hope the late November meeting is far enough ahead to allow many to schedule attendance. If not, e-mailor call the Directors with your thoughts.

Bobbi Belton

Bobbi Belton

Mike Burnett's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 183
Post rating: 0

Landscape ordinance would be the next step

Personally, I believe the CSD is on the right track and feel they need to go further by creating landscape ordinances which regulate the type of landscaping materials along with watering times.

Take a look at the California Council for the American Society of Landscape Architects. http://www.asla-californiacouncil.org/content/wgo_legislative.html

The CSD should be working with all the CID's and businesses in their serving area to establish these standards.

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