MWSD set new water rates Thursday night


Posted by on Fri, November 19, 2010

I’ve written before on how the Montara Water and Sanitary District (MWSD) new rate schedule is unfair to families but I will go into that in more detail later. Let me update you on the results of the proposed changes and remind you that the new rate will be set on Thursday, November 18, 2010 at the regular schedule meeting at 7:30PM at 8888 Cabrillo Hwy, next to Pt Montara Lighthouse and Hostel. It’s never to late to voice your opinion on this topic.

First, I will update you on the adoption of the new rates at the MWSD November 4, 2010 meeting. About a dozen people attended and expressed their opposition to the proposed rate schedule but it was to no avail. If you read your notice, sent out September 10, 2010, it said “If written protest are submitted against the proposed fees or charges or against a particular fee or charge by the owners of a majority of the parcels identified by the District as receiving water service from the District, the protested fee(s) or charge(s) will not become effective”. Of course, the chances of a majority of the owners ever taking such an action are nil. Something about Newton’s First Law of Motion and overcoming inertia.

You may recall the old rate schedule for most residential houses was a monthly meter charge (5/8”) of $35.5 and a water consumption rate of $5.24 for 0 – 19 HCFs and $7.393 for 20+ HCFs. The new rate lowers the monthly meter charges, so now a standard residential meter (5/8”) is $25.59 per month. The new water consumption rate is divided into four tiers. The following are the maximum charge for each tier. Tier 1 is 0 - 6 HCFs at $7.43/HCF which is 25% less than the average rate. Tier 2 is 7 – 13 HCFs at $9.91/HCF which is the average rate. Tier 3 is 14 – 27 HCFs at $12.39/HCF which is 25% more than the average rate. And finally Tier 4 is everything over 27 HCFs at $17.35 for a whooping 75% penalty. Ouch.

There were many reasons given for the increases and new rate structure. One, which we all have a vested interest in, is the increased rates are need to protect the solvency of MWSD. Obviously cost are going up and I don’t have the data at this time to challenge their argument that they have cut expenditures to the bone. However, their reasons for the meter charges and tier changes were questionable.

First, MWSD claimed that by lowering the meter charges and increasing the consumption rate they would put a greater emphasis on conserving water usage. The problem is they don’t meter conservation. They only measure the water usage of a connection so a single person could waste water and pay less than a family who conserves water because of the punitive measures induced by the new tier rates.

They also pointed out that a single person on a connection was paying a higher percentage of the service cost than a family with more people per connection. Transferring the meter cost, which is supposed to be for the service charge, to the consumption charge isn’t fair. The cost of servicing each connection of the same size for the overall system is negligible for normal residential usage. There is basic infrastructure needed to service each connection whether there is one person or ten persons on that connection. Maybe there is some extra storage capacity needed or the pumps have to run longer, but again these numbers were not provided to see if the service charges actually reflect the cost.

Both of these changes have the effect of less affluent families subsidizing the more affluent single’s and couple’s households. This was pointed out by all the speakers and also in a letter from the Midcoast Community Council. However, all the Directors, Paul Perkovic, Jim Harvey, Scott Boyd, Bob Ptacek, Treasurer and Kathryn Slater-Carter voted for the increase. Keep that in mind when you get your new water bills.

Bill Kehoe

Comment 1
Sat, November 20, 2010 7:28pm
Lee McKusick
All my comments

I send along a spreadsheet that shows the monthly water bill for the new proposed water rates. Check a few values to ensure I didn’t make a programming error.

For my family, when we had 3 teenagers and 2 adults, the water usage was 10 to 13 HCF bi-monthly (CCWD bills bimonthly). Two adults and 1 teenager plus a little garden water now show 9 HCF bi-monthly.

The result of my water conservation efforts is I have done the widely recommended measures. Low flow showerheads and toilets and a water conservation washer are a good deal.

Suppose you operate in the 6 HCF monthly range, the bill shows as $70.17/mo.

What are some strategies available to reduce the water bill? If you can not use 1 HCF, it is worth $8 to $10. Now 1 HCF is 748 gallons of water

If you do a project and pay for the components with a credit card, A project of about $400 is the most money you can spend to barely pay off a $8 savings.

The first and biggest savings I found is stop watering the garden with utility water.

Second, I use an electric power washer to wash the family cars. This is only a summer solution. The high kinetic energy of the pressure washer removes the soap better than a garden hose spray.

I have run into a lot of problems coming up with a gray water or rain water re-use solution.

Here is some notes on stuff I am considering:

I got 4 empty barrels from behind the Chevron gas station car wash in Half Moon Bay. Barrels from Craigslist advertisers are $30 and up. The barrels total 200 gallons of rain water storage. The quantity of water I could store is only 1/4 HCF.

Next, I am eyeing using bathtub and washer rinse water for flushing toilets. All of these schemes require a non-code plumbing modification and an electric pump. I simply have not figured out a gray water scheme that both saves money and does not damage the value of the house.

Pumps are expensive, under-house work is miserable and non-code plumbing interferes with the value of the house. Plus, whatever you make has to function even if the electricity is off and the pump fails.

Comment 2
Sun, November 21, 2010 7:32am
Barry Parr
All my comments
Comment 3
Sun, November 21, 2010 9:08am
Lisa Ketcham
All my comments

In justifying their new 4-tier rate structure MWSD compares it to neighboring water districts in Pacifica and HMB.  Apparently ignored is the fact that those districts only apply their tiered rates to residential single-family customers, not apartment houses with single master meter or mobilehome parks, or for that matter, their schools and hospitals.  Under the new MWSD rates those larger master meter customers will quickly reach the highest punitive 4th tier rate and be charged that for virtually all their water.

NCCWD (Pacifica) bills customers who are not residential single family dwellings at their Tier 2 rate.
CCWD (HMB) bills non-single-family-residential customers a flat rate of $6.10/hcf which falls between their second and third tier.