A popular water conservation program may end up increasing our water bills.
Water agencies across Southern California have been giving away money to people and businesses that replace their thirsty lawns with drought-tolerant plants.
These rebate programs are wildly popular, but water agency leaders are now questioning whether the biggest of these programs will save much water anytime soon. They’re also concerned the rebates are just subsidies for people who don’t need subsidies.
The San Diego County Water Authority raised the alarm earlier this month about the lawn replacement program run by the Metropolitan Water District, which is on track to give out at least $270 million this year.
The County Water Authority gets about half its water from Metropolitan, the Los Angeles-based supplier that delivers water across Southern California. The County Water Authority sells its water to 24 local water agencies in the county, and those agencies are the ones that dole out our water bills.
In a strongly worded letter to the Metropolitan board, the County Water Authority said the rebates amount to a regressive tax that transfers money from low-income ratepayers to businesses and homeowners with large lawns.
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I have suggested to water authority umpteen times before. The best way to help save water is to one bill us every month and second, to encourage us to save with smart water meters. I am not sure why SDGE needs smart meters to monitor electricity. We need them more to monitor water use. We should be getting notices what our neighbors are using for water rather than how they are using electricity.
Why enough water will never be enough for California
Increasing population in a desert during extreme drought during climate change is like widening streets and freeways.
There is no solution for drought. Uncertainty will continue under these circumstances.
"In a strongly worded letter to the Metropolitan board, the County Water Authority said the rebates amount to a regressive tax that transfers money from low-income ratepayers to businesses and homeowners with large lawns."
On April 10th of this year, the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled that San Juan Capistrano's tiered water rates violates a law voters approved in 1996 that prohibits government agencies from charging more than the cost of a service.
For that reason, wouldn't Metropolitan's water conservation program also be illegal?
@Derek Hofmann My understanding is that it's illegal unless the higher tiers are shown to be necessary because increased usage results in increased costs. For example, I'm guessing that increased usage could be documented as being the reason that desal water is being contracted at substantially higher rates and thus heavy users should pay more. But bottom line, it has to be documented, not arbitrary tiers.