Tahoe City utility to install water meters | SierraSun.com

Tahoe City utility to install water meters

A few Tahoe City water customers can expect to pay for individual water consumption based on meter readings as early as this summer, with the rest of the district falling into line next year.

The Tahoe City Public Utility District has started installing water meters in neighborhoods and expects to complete the project no later than 2009. The district is currently working in Dollar Point and Tahoe City Highlands.

“There’s a bill that passed [the legislature] that mandates that any rural district that have water meters installed for their customers, we must start billing those customers on that consumption by January 2010,” said district General Manager Bob Lourey.

Just a handful of neighborhoods already have water meters in place, but the district wanted an even playing field for all its customers, and highlighted the metering project in the five-year capital plan.

It will cost the district almost $5 million to provide water meters to its constituents, Lourey said.

Both the Squaw Valley and North Tahoe utility districts have had success with residential water meters for a number of years, Lourey said.

The district won’t begin billing most people on water consumption until next summer ” except for 18 customers along the Truckee River who will be billed this summer ” but will start a process to inform customers with new meters how much water they are using.

“When these meters go in people will have a better part of a year of seeing what amount of water they’re using and what that would cost them, before we start billing that way,” said district board Director Ron Treabess.

Customers will get to monitor their water consumption for almost a year before being billed accordingly, from the time the meters are installed until July 1 of the following year, said district assistant General Manager Cindy Gustafson.

Board directors still need to determine the exact billing process, but an upcoming rate study will help the district assess when and how to charge customers based on water meter readings.

“The way I envision it is, there will be a base rate that everyone pays. And that’s for a certain amount of water, a basic amount of water,” Treabess said. “Then the meters will be read and for usage above that there will be some additional assessment for additional use of water.”

The Squaw Valley Public Service District has billed based on individual meter readings for about two decades. Customers pay a base rate and are billed for water consumption according to three usage tiers, said district General Manager Rick Lierman.

They are now considering adding a fourth tier as well, Lierman added.

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