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Water Regulators Look At Rate Increases To Maximize Conservation

Florence Low
California Department of Water Resources

Increasing the price of water encourages conservation. But As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, California water regulators are seeking the best way to do that without running into legal problems.

Many water agencies are looking at ways to charge customers more for higher water use. But earlier this year a California court struck down a city's tiered-rate structure because the charges were not directly tied to the cost of service. The State Water Resources Control Board is discussing all pricing mechanisms – including a suggestion that the board collect a fee from agencies whose customers use too much water. Mark Weston with the San Diego County Water Authority advised against that.

Weston: “It would be the same as going to the ag  community and saying we’re going to tell you how much water you use per acre and if you use anything over that we’re going to penalize you.”

Weston told the board tiered water rates work best. Other agencies suggested all rate payers be subject to a drought surcharge or levy penalties against customers who use too much water.