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Existing Ripon homes must have water meters
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RIPON — The City of Ripon got on board Tuesday night with a state mandated Assembly Bill 2572 ruling that water meters be installed on all residential properties in the community.

New construction of single family residences has already required the installation of meters since 1992. However the older homes have no meters currently with all residential customers remaining on the current flat rate for the remainder of the year.

Council members also agreed to hire a part-time worker to assist in the transition from the flat rates to a metered system.  The position is not to exceed $20,000 with the new employee assigned to public outreach.  

 He or she would be responsible to communicate water conservation strategies with water customers, perform water audits and caution customers who presently use excessive amounts of water prior to the new rates taking effect.

The additional employee’s salary is to be funded through the existing water rates.

The newer homes in the city account for about half of the some 4,200 single family residential customers that currently have meters.  Commercial, industrial, multi-family, churches and schools now have meters and are currently being billed on actual water use.

Ripon was required by law to begin reading the installed water meters by January of this year, but not having to bill those customers for the actual use beyond the current flat rate until January of 2011.  City engineer Kevin Werner explained that the year delay for meter billing will allow residents to adjust their usage before the rates take effect.

Werner also said that the flat rates will continue to be applied to the single family residential customers with and without a meter as well as the non-single family residential metered rates that are not going to be altered in the near future.

He noted that there are water customers that use excessive water who will see much higher water bills beginning in January of next year.  As an example the filling of a 20,000 gallon swimming pool will reportedly cost about $12.

The recommended single family metered rate structure for Ripon was compared in a recent study to metered rates in nearby cities.  Ripon’s average monthly bill was seen as $34 compared to that of Manteca at $47 and Lathrop at $51.  Escalon was the only city with a lower average monthly bill of $23.

The state legislation calls for the installation of water meters for all water customers by 2025 with the city being required to install meters on residences that do not already have one on line.  

Last November the council opted to charge customers without a meter a surcharge for a period of 10 years for the cost of the meter installation.  The added cost to the resident is expected to be $7.60 monthly.  The beginning date for the surcharge has not been stated to date.

Customers are being notified in their monthly bill the amount of their water usage, Werner said, giving them an idea of what to expect after the first of the year.

Prior to the completion of the residential water meter rate, citizens will be given notice, required by California law, which will include a public hearing and a written protest process to voice opposition to the new rates.  

The water customers will find an explanation with their water bill on how they might determine the volume of water used per month and how to calculate their water bill.

The city of Ripon has provided water conservation information of the city’s website where they have posted answers to frequently asked questions.