The district has added another layer of fees — a surcharge on the water used above each customer's "water use allocation." That allocation is computed by averaging each household's average water use for the same billing period in the past three years. For single-family households, water use above 90 percent of that allocation will face a surcharge of $2 per unit.I've attacked this mistaken "price reform" before, but it seems that EBMUD is determined to carry on with their mistake.
Here's where the plan starts to fall apart: The surcharges punish households that have conserved in the past and allows past water-wasters to continue their bad consumption habits without penalty as long as they don't use more water than in the past. Many people cut their consumption after the last drought in the early 1990s. They put in drought-resistant landscaping and low-flow shower heads. They should be rewarded, not punished, for their behavior. The district should drop the surcharge and simply raise rates for heavy users.
The question is not whether the rate structure should be fixed; it's whether the water district directors have the political courage to stand up to the water-wasters. Only 6 percent of the district's single-family households consume more than 1,230 gallons per day (50 units per month). Most of them are probably living in big homes with massive lawns. They can afford to pay more — to pay their fair share. Maybe some of them would start conserving if they faced higher bills.
Bottom Line: Water prices should treat every PERSON equally. Someone who lives on a large lot (or uses a lot of water) should face the same prices as someone who lives in a tiny apartment (or uses very little water). Not only is it fair (people are people), but it's efficient (wasters who face higher prices will use less).
hattip to DW