If you’re a Placerville resident who irrigated your yard between December 2013 and February 2014, your wastewater charges beginning in September might be higher than usual. Unseasonably warm weather and dry conditions led some residents to irrigate their yards, indirectly causing higher than usual wastewater charges, which are always calculated using winter water consumption.
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Typically, ratepayers do little or no irrigation between December and February and so water charges beginning in September for the following 12 months are calculated using those consumption rates.
Irrigation water does not typically enter the wastewater system, so Placerville City Council took action to ensure that ratepayers who irrigated December-February won’t have to pay extra for the 12-month period following September 2014, because of artificially increased charges due to irrigation.
A one-time adjustment form was proposed to be sent out with the March utility bills, giving ratepayers who did winter irrigation an opportunity to receive a rate adjustment based on their 2012-2013 rates. Completed forms will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Residential wastewater charges will be calculated and adjusted from June 2014 to June 2015 if the director of finance determines that a ratepayer did increase irrigation use for the period of December 2013 to February 2014 due to the unusually dry weather conditions.
During a similar dry period between December 2011 and February 2012, the city adopted a resolution to adjust ratepayers’ rates if their winter consumption was increased due to irrigation. They received 291 completed forms and made adjustments to 192 accounts.
“Most of the other 90 accounts actually used less water,” said city Finance Director Dave Warren.
“Will this be a significant amount of money to the city?” asked Councilwoman Carol Patton. “We’re asking people to conserve and use less water, but we’re giving them a break if they used more.”
Placerville resident Sue Rodman said the adjustment gave those who watered during the winter an unfair advantage over those who conserved. “It sends a mixed message,” she said.
Mayor Carl Hagen said the time period of the winter water use occurred before the declaration of a Stage 2 Water Alert.
The City Council voted 4-1 to approve the wastewater adjustment, reviewing it on a case-by-case basis. Councilwoman Patton was the “no” vote.
The rate adjustment form will be sent out in the March utility bills and posted on Facebook and the city Website at cityofplacerville.org.
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or [email protected] Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.