Request to Run Water Prompts Council to Cap Residential Water Usage Charges

During their regular meeting on January 22, the Salida City Council set a cap on water usage charges paid by residential customers that will be effective for the first quarter billing cycle. The decision was made in light of the number of water meters that are freezing, which stops service to the home. Customers are being asked to run a small, but steady, stream of water to prevent this problem. Some customers expressed concerns about charges associated with the extra water use.

As a result of the action taken by City Council, customers who comply with the request to run water will not pay the cost of the extra water usage. The maximum volume charge was set at 12,000 gallons for the quarter, which runs from January through the end of March. This volume was selected because it is slightly less than the average amount of water used by customers in the first quarter. Therefore, any volume over this amount is assumed to be a result of the request to keep a stream of water running. Wastewater charges also include a volume component that is based on the water meter reading. Therefore, the wastewater volume charge will also be capped at 12,000 gallons. Customers who use less than 12,000 gallons of water during the quarter will be billed for the actual amount used.

In dollar terms, the usage charges amount to $9.42 for water and $7.14 for wastewater at a volume of 12,000 gallons, since the first 6,000 gallons are included in the base fee. The 2013 rates passed by the council last November were set at $1.57 per thousand gallons of water and $1.19 per thousand gallons of wastewater. Normal flat fees for service will apply.

In addition, residential customers will see the same 12,000 gallon cap applied to wastewater volume charges on their second and third quarter bills. Due to outside irrigation during the summer months, the water meter reading from the first quarter is used to estimate the volume of wastewater sent to the plant for treatment.

City staff is focused on identifying and evaluating possible solutions to resolve the problem of freezing meters. In the meantime, the best way to avoid the inconvenience associated with the loss of water service is to keep the water running at a stream approximately the diameter of a pencil.