Implementing Water Budget Rate Structures for Conservation

Presented by

Ken Baerenklau, UC Riverside & Tim Barr, Western Municipal Water District

About this talk

Ken Baerenklau will present the results of a study conducted at UC Riverside that examined the effects of switching from uniform to budget-based rates in the Eastern Municipal Water District of Southern California. The study utilized ten years of monthly water bills for 12,000 customers in EMWD’s service area to calibrate a household water demand model and then estimate the effects of the budget-based rate structure on water demand after controlling for average price level, weather, and income. The rate structure appears to have reduced demand by 10-15% primarily by causing previously inefficient households to become more efficient. The second presentation, by Tim Barr, Western’s Deputy Director of Water Resources, will outline the Western Municipal Water District implementation of a water budget-based rate structure for its retail water customers. Western’s unique approach uses real-time, microzone-specific, evapotranspiration data and modified monthly turfgrass coefficients from UC research to calculate accurate landscape water budgets on a daily basis. Western’s finance and water efficiency staff collaborated with rate and horticultural consultants to develop a structure that safeguards the financial integrity of the District, provides each unique customer with the water they need, and sends appropriate pricing signals based on efficient water use with every water service bill. In 2015, Western linked the rate structure and the District’s shortage contingency program in anticipation of reduced water supplies due to statewide drought.

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