My water bill for Jan/Feb was $136.19 for 10 units of water. Today I got my Mar/April bill. I used almost twice as much water (19 units) but I paid nowhere near twice as much. In fact, I paid only $23.49 more for the extra 9 units. On Tuesday night the Poway council will look at new water rates for the level 2 (L2) water shortage. The new blocked rates increase as water use increases. According to the proposed rates, single family customers will pay $2.64 for the first 15 units of water, $2.97 for 16-40 units, $3.30 for 41-80 units, $3.96 for 81-120 units, and $4.62 for any units over 120. But, those who use less water will still be paying more per unit of water than most of the higher consuming customers. Why? Because the fixed costs that Poway tacks on the everyone's bills disproportionately ding the low end user.
I have to pay $101.09 even if I do not use a drop of water. $22.38 of that is a "basic service water charge" that every single family user pays, whether they consume 0 units of water or over 200 units. That fee will increase to $24 during the summer. Every single family customer also pays a "basic service sewer charge" of $15.48. In addition, customers pay a sewer consumption charge that costs more per unit of water for those who use less.
The graph at the top of the page show what the new level 2 (L2) water rates will be with the basic service (but not the sewer consumption) fees included. One unit of water costs $42.12 with the fixed fees included. The rate decreases rapidly and then appears to level out. But it really doesn't. Here is a closer look at the graph (click on graphs to make them larger):
Notice the little point on the graph above 81 units of water? A person using 81 units of water gets the best bargain. They have to pay $3.57/unit. People using less than 81 units will pay a lot more for their water. Someone using only 9 units of water will pay $7.03/unit, which is almost twice as much as the person using 81 units. People using 20 units will pay $4.70/unit with the fixed charges included.
People who use more than 81 units will see their costs/unit increase but the increases won't be as drastic as for the very low end users. Someone using 150 units of water will only have to pay $3.88/unit. Yes, some one using 150 units of water is paying a lot less per unit than the person using only 15 units ($5.27/unit). The rates still reward the water hogs.
I didn't include the sewer consumption fees in the chart or in the data, because the assigned tiers (and rates) do not necessarily correspond to current water consumption. But, If I had been able to include those numbers in the data, the rates would have been even more skewed in favor of those who consume more.
The proposed water rates do very little to incentivize low end users to conserve water. In fact, because the fixed fees and the sewer consumption charge are such a big chunk of the low end users' bills, they are likely to be pissed off when they do conserve and find out it has almost no impact on what they have to pay. I know I have figured out that saving a few bucks a month by taking shorter and less frequent showers is not worth it when I am paying over $100 before I even use a drop of water.
If Poway really wanted to conserve water, and make the rates more fair, they should drop the fixed fees and restructure the sewer consumption fee. Otherwise those who use less water are subsidizing those who use more water.