I woke up at about 4:30, to the thumpa-thumpa of rain, and before I drifted back to sleep, I realized, I can turn off the lawn sprinklers now. Things should be able to make it past this point. I’ll be paying attention, might have to run the sprinklers now and then, but from here on in, I’m expecting my water bill to drop.
We turned things off in September, on our regular schedule, but within a few weeks we noticed the lawns were turning brown where we didn’t want them to, and the redwood trees were getting a little frazzled. So, most stuff went back on, on an abbreviated schedule. Our most recent water bill was a little high for this time of year, higher than last month. I was bothered by this, so checked the bills. Yes, we went five ccf over last month, I assume, because we turned the sprinklers back on. And, since that last five ccf was in Tier 3, we paid over a dollar a piece for them.
And then there’s “WRAM” – Water Rate Adjustment Mechanism. You will see this charge (or credit!) in the middle of your Cal Water bill. Mine has been as high as $20, with no explanation. Here’s what I found online, first from the Golden State Water Company of Simi Valley, and then from the CA Dept. of Ratepayer Advocates:
WRAM. Golden State Water Company is required to file a report by March 31 of each year indicating the difference
between actual revenues derived from the usage charge for the previous calendar year and revenues that the company
was authorized to receive from the usage charge. If the actual sales were below what the company was authorized to
receive, resulting in an under-collection of rates, the company is allowed to pick up the difference in a temporary
surcharge. Conversely, if the actual sales were above what the company was authorized to receive, the company would
issue sur-credits. One of the primary reasons for this surcharge is to keep an incentive for the company to implement
conservation rates and conservation programs.
From DRA – The Water Revenue Adjustment Mechanism (WRAM) and Modified Cost Balancing Accounts (MCBA) were first implemented in 2008 and were developed as part of a pilot program to promote water conservation. The CPUC adopted the mechanisms as part of conservation rate design pilot programs. The goals of the WRAM/MCBA are to sever the relationship between sales and revenue to remove any disincentive to implement conservation rates and programs; ensure cost savings are passed on to ratepayers; and reduce overall water consumption.
In September 2011, the Class A water utilities with WRAM/MCBAs filed an application requesting changes to accounting-related issues, including a shortened time period for the amortization schedule.
A Proposed Decision was issued on March 19, 2012. The PD implements a safeguard that establishes a limit on WRAM/MCBA surcharges of 7.5% a year with review and recovery of residual amounts in each applicant’s general rate case (GRC).
Huh? Here’s my take on it – they try to make this look like a safeguard for the consumer, but when was the last time you got a credit on this? I’ve only received charges, month after month, tacked on to my bill. And more of this bullshit about conserving - we know this is a lie! This mechanism is just to guarantee that Cal Water gets their money.
This WRAM bullshit is just another way to siphon our money into Cal Water employee’s pensions, not to mention stockholder payouts.
Are you sick of being a cash cow? Write to your county board of supervisors -
email@example.com (Steve Lambert)
and cc Paul Hahn, PHahn@buttecounty.net
Then write to your city council. I’ve been told you can still use the old addresses, but the formula for the new address should work like this: firstname.lastname@example.org But some of these sneaky fuckers use capital letters, and some don’t. They don’t have the new addresses on the city website, and the links on the city council page are useless. Of course it’s on purpose – show them they don’t get around you so easily!
Tell your elected employees that you’re tired of being had by an agency that pumps our groundwater up, throws in some Chlorox and charges us like it’s got steak in it. Tell them you want the county and cities to own the groundwater. Cal Water has taken advantage of us for years, they don’t deserve our trust, or our hard earned money. Now, be warned – they might need a bond to do this. But in the city of Felton, near Santa Cruz, they came up with a plan to eminent domain Cal Water and contract another municipal water company to take over. According to the Territorial Dispatch out of Yuba City 75 percent of Felton voters ” chose to accept a property tax increase of up to $600 per year for 30 years. However, the average citizen’s water bill decreased by at least 50%. Even with the tax increase, most residents are already saving as much as $400 per year overall.”
Write those letters.
FYI – here’s a link that shows rates in different towns - https://calwater.com/rates/rates_tariffs/index.php?district=mrl&Submit=Show+rate+documents