Tuesday, September 16, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Understanding the new water rates without math

By
From page A1 | May 02, 2014 |

To best describe the city’s new consumption-based water rates that are set to take effect in January, you need to think of the fire hydrant near your house.

It’s always on standby, it has no water meter and everybody pays for it regardless of how much water they use. Keep that in mind.

Early on in the campaign for Measure P, the initiative on the June 3 ballot that would have the City Council scrap the water rates and start again, some proponents suggested an approach that sounds very simple: Design a rate where you pay more if you use more, gallon by gallon.

As will be explained, that’s deceptive when it comes to rates that pay for the entire water system. Further, the consumption-based rate that Measure P would toss out gets closer to that than traditional water rates Davisites are used to paying — at least in its structure.

Davis residents eventually will pay as much as two to three times what they did in early 2013, in order to cover the cost of a new surface water project undertaken jointly with Woodland. The project will siphon water from the Sacramento River, treat the water and pipe it to both communities.

Let’s focus first on a basic water rate, and let’s get back to that fire hydrant.

City services cost money. Your fire hydrant is no different. It had to be bought, it had to be installed, it has to be in good working order and it has to be on standby with access to a lot of water in case your house, or your neighbor’s house, catches on fire. That readiness costs money every month.

Let’s think about how that fire hydrant is taken care of. People do that, but not for free. They’re city employees and they draw a salary. That costs money every month.

Let’s think about the pipes that serve the fire hydrant and the water mains to which your house’s plumbing system is connected. They cost money to buy, to install and to maintain. Once again, there’s a monthly cost.

If everyone paid by the gallon exclusively, there wouldn’t be enough money to cover the upkeep of the water system in the summer.

Why? Because every winter, water use would plummet and the amount of money people would pay for the water system would drop as well. Come summertime, the system would fail when people needed to water their lawns, take a shower and have that fire hydrant ready for disaster at the same time.

Basic two-step water rates take that into account. So, whether you are using one gallon or 1 million gallons, you pay a fixed charge every month to pay for the capacity of the system. Not a drop of water gets paid for with the fixed charge, just the so-called “dry” costs.

The water, the wells, water storage and the cost to filter it and treat it to standards set by the state using chemicals, plus the electricity it takes to run the water system, are usually wrapped up into a second “wet” charge that changes with how much water you use.

In traditional rate systems, your use affects this charge only so much because many of the so-called “wet” costs lean more toward the “dry” side by being less changeable than others. These are called “wet-fixed” costs.

That’s where the consumption-based rate is different from a basic rate. It separates the fee you pay into three charges: the “dry” costs; the “wet-fixed” costs for wells, surface water and above-ground storage; and then the complete “wet” costs of how much water you use and how much money it takes to treat and move that water along the system.

Because the “wet” costs are separated from the other fixed costs, water customers can more directly control how much “wet” costs they are charged for.

The consumption-based rate is currently measuring water use from now until October to establish the rate customers will pay for the next year.

On the surface, this sounds much less fair than a 12-month measurement, but because the vast majority of water use happens during the dry months when residents water their yards, a six-month summer measurement more accurately measures the capacity of the system when it is being used the most.

The consumption-based rate also ensures that people who use more water pay more. Apartment dwellers who use water for basic needs like washing dishes and taking showers pay less than customers who have a large house to accommodate a family, with a large irrigated yard and a swimming pool.

— Reach Dave Ryan at dryan@davisenterprise.net or call 530-747-8057.

Comments

comments

.

News

Davis school nurses are stretched thin

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Dempsey: If campaign fails, ground troops possible

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Scotland took long road to independence vote

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Wright resigns his seat in California Senate

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
New DHS Hall-of-Famers

By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A3

 
Exploration of dementia lecture set for Sept. 25

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Sierra Club gathers for morning walks

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

DPNS has afternoon openings

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Paws for Thought: Socialize your new pup at UCD’s Yappy Hour

By Evelyn Dale | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
DHS parents go back to school

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Sick-pay benefits expanded to millions

By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A4

 
Bad roads cost Californians billions

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Farmers market continues at Sutter Davis

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Yolo County’s looking for a few good advisers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Search the Internet at Connections Café

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Garage, bake sales benefit outdoor education trip

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A5

Sutter qigong classes start Sept. 22

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Halloween costume sale benefits preschool

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Hundreds flee wildfires; homes burn

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Harmony Award nominations sought

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
Da Vinci seniors take on Constitution essay

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

.

Forum

Sounds like a swell party

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Maybe not the best rebound guy

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

Carbon fee and dividend plan is the answer

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
Nate Beeler cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

 
Many reasons to back Sunder

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

I support Madhavi Sunder

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
A leader with heart and vision

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

.

Sports

Finding the good in a tough DHS football loss

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1

 
More pressure on QB would be nice for Aggies

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

Raber: glad to join in bringing readers golf column

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B1

 
Open Cup final has local flavor

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1

Devil volleyball victories keep piling up

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
DHS needs just 10 boys to top Elk Grove

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Highlights galore in Junior Blue Devil weekend

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Sports briefs: Big Monday for Masiel as DHS golfers win league opener

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

.

Features

.

Arts

‘Shrek, The Musical’ shines at DMTC

By Bev Sykes | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
Irish fiddlers come to Davis house show

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

Jenny Lynn and Her Real Gone Daddies play at Picnic in the Park

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
Woodland artist hosts event at her new studio

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

‘Jane Eyre’ to screen at I-House

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Anais Mitchell to play Third Space

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Tuesday, September 16, 2014 (set 1)

By Creator | From Page: B5

 
Comics: Tuesday, September 16, 2014 (set 2)

By Creator | From Page: B7