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How Should Residents Be Charged for Water?

Through the current system, rates are reduced for the lowest water users. But council is looking to implement a new system that would encourage all residents to save more water.

Although water rates  City Council is looking to change the current tiered structure to one that better promotes water conservation. 

The new pricing system would determine the amount of water each home should use based on factors like lot size and the number of people in the family, reports the Pasadena Star-News.

Per the publication: 

To implement the new system, the city will need to spend $50,000 in extra costs to contract with Ash, hire additional staff and rework the billing system. Finance Director Chu Thai said the extra money, plus $100,000 already budgeted, would come out of the water fund. Even with the new system, Thai said, water rates would still need to increase over the next few years.

A , but not all council members were convinced that that tiered rate model was the best option for the city. 

Council Member Philip Putnam voted against the tiered rate system because he said it does not promote conservation among low water users and unfairly charges residents who consume high amounts, regardless of whether they are trying to conserve water. 

Through the current system, rates are reduced for the lowest water users.

"If there's no incentive for 30 percent of people to conserve, the other 70 percent have to conserve [considerably] to make up for it," Putnam said in December 2010. 

Residents echoed his point at a sewer and water rate hearing earlier this month. 

"... We conserve and conserve, yet we're not rewarded for it. In fact, we are penalized compared to someone who uses more water. Why isn't the water bill more based on how much you use—especially because we are trying to conserve?" asked resident Shirley Weber. 

And tell us: Are you happy with the current water rate model? If not, how would you like to see it change? 

spidra March 30, 2012 at 05:38 AM
I think there does need to be an increase because we haven't seen the last drought in Southern California and South Pasadena clearly needs major maintenance of its sewer lines and water reservoir. Just about any day of the week one can go for a walk in town and see people watering at high noon, sprinkler systems that water more concrete than plants, and water being used instead of brooms to clear pavement of leaves and/or dust. Clearly water isn't precious enough to people if they're willing to waste it casually like that. Reminds me of some drivers who complain gas prices are obscenely high yet drive 90 mph on the freeway or are constantly accelerating up to a stoplight. I agree with Mr. Putnam that it's possible that someone who falls on the low tier may be wasting water while someone on a higher tier is trying to implement conservation changes. Hopefully the system the city settles on will be as fair as it's possible to be given that the city doesn't have the manpower to do an individual audit at each property every month. There are some major choices that some may have to make. Is the large ornamental lawn really worth the cost in a higher water bill? Regardless, given the region's history of droughts and nascent global climate change, this is not a temporary situation. Watersaving measures implemented now will serve in future.

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