This is Reno sat down with Kim Mazeres, Truckee Meadows Water Authority’s director of customer relations, to explore the complex topic of how a water purveyor deals with the tough realities of drought. We sought to find out more about our area’s water use in key areas:
Video interviews accompany each post in this series, exploring these topics in more detail.
Dealing with Drought part 3 of 5
By Bob Conrad, video interview by Bob Conrad and Chris Vega
THIS IS RENO: What is the status of residential flat-rate customers? Wasn’t the goal to eventually move all residences to metered water service? Has metering water services impacted conservation?
Kim Mazeres, Truckee Meadows Water Authority: Flat-rate services have gone from 41 percent of our system in 2003 to 7 percent today, leaving about 6,400 services billing at the flat-rate currently. These are older homes, most with bigger lots that have a grandfathered flat rate.
So far, the switch to metered rates has been voluntary, unless a flat-rate customer moves. That triggers mandatory metered service for the next tenant/owner.
But remember, as is true with all of our rates, all costs associated with delivering water to a group of customers are paid by that group. For flat rate customers, we take the all of the costs and divide them equally among all of the flat-rate customers. Thus, the flat-rate customers who use a lower amount of water on average are subsidizing the higher use flat-rate customers.
And, yes, metered water service sends a big economic signal to most customers. They pay for what they use. So, it eventually drives what you plant, how much lawn you have, how often you water, how proactively you search for irrigation leaks, etc. Most flat-rate customers have no reason to monitor their usage each month, as their bill is always the same. They could have a leak and not realize it. In last 10 years, our total annual water use has decreased by 15 percent, while our population has increased. We attribute a lot of that savings to conversion from flat-rate to metered rate billing.
Read the complete series: http://conradcomm.wpengine.com/dealing-drought/
FIND OUT MORE
Here’s more information on TMWA’s water resources: www.tmwa.com/water_system/resources/2030wrp. For a deeper look at TMWA’s resource planning, the “2010-2030 Water Resource Plan” can be downloaded here: www.tmwa.com/water_system/resources/2030wrp. Portions of the plan, which was adopted by the TMWA Board of Directors in 2009, are incorporated into the Regional Water Management Plan, which is maintained by the Western Regional Water Commission.