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Bill to help renters shrink their water bill wins approval

By From page A4 | May 10, 2013

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday to approve legislation by state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, to provide tenants of apartments and other multi-unit dwellings with accurate information about their water use through sub-metering, encouraging responsible water consumption and conservation.

“California is struggling to meet water demand in the face of climate change, development, and a fast-growing population. It’s critical that we use our limited water supply as efficiently as possible,” Wolk said in a news release.

“My legislation helps accomplish that goal by enabling water users to make informed decisions about their water consumption, helping consumers save money on their water bill and encouraging conservation.”

SB 750 would require the installation of water meters or sub-meters on individual dwelling units in newly constructed multi-unit buildings, like apartment buildings, after Jan. 1, 2014, as a requirement for new water service to that property. The bill also would provide tenants with an accurate account of their water consumption, and its effect on their water bill.

Current law requires that water meters be installed in every single-family dwelling in California. But meters are not required for individual units in multi-unit housing.

“Over one-third of Californians live in multi-unit family residential housing where they don’t have meters or sub-meters. That means they don’t get the price signal to conserve, and they don’t even know how much water they’re using, necessarily,” testified Doug Obegi with the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the bill’s co-sponsors.

“This bill builds on the state’s tradition of improving water use efficiency in single-family homes and extends it to apartment dwellings, and is an essential step toward a secure and reliable water future in California.”

In fact, studies show that sub-meter use can decrease water use by as much as 15 to 40 percent, he said.

Enterprise staff

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