Writer shares concerns about Antioch water reduction goals, rates

Dear Editor:

Below is an open letter I sent to the Antioch City Water Finance Department and all the city council members.

To Antioch City officials,

I received a letter dated June 5, 2015 with my last water bill. The letter provided a personalized water conservation goal table showing, by billing period, the actual usage from 2013 and the water reduction goal for this year, a 28% reduction. Apparently, a letter was sent out several months ago, that I missed, which asked for input from the public prior to the water restrictions being set. Please forgive my tardiness, but here is my input, now.

I have two issues with the water usage plan, neither of which are mentioned in the letter. First, the way the water usage is calculated is flawed. The usages are by billing period. This can be a very inaccurate way to compare actual water consumption because the number of days in a billing period in any year, but specifically 2013 and 2015, can be quite different. For example, looking at my water bills for the past two years there is a range of 23 to 36 days in a billing cycle. It would be nearly impossible to reduce the water usage by 28% if the number of days in 2015 is 36 days and in 2013 it was 23 days. Since the billing statements already include the gallons/day consumption, why not use this figure for the reduction goal? Also, the number of people in a household may also be greatly different from what it was in 2013. How can a comparison be valid without this factor?

The other issue I have, also was not mentioned in the letter. After multiple phone calls I learned that the charge per unit in my zone is increasing from $2.64 to $2.69 for the first 13 units. I have no problem with this. But, for usage in a monthly billing cycle that exceeds 13 units, the charge will be $4.35. As stated above, the number of days in a billing cycle might up to 13 days longer, which could be up to a 56% increase in the number of days in a billing cycle. The higher charge is a nearly 65% increase in the cost of water. It is possible citizens of Antioch could be charged 65% more for water usage in a billing cycle that was 56% longer than it was in 2013. Citizens could be charged a much higher rate for water even though their usage per day may have been less than the goal. A much fairer way to impose water restriction would be to base the tiers on gallons/day. If 13 units of water is consumed in a standard 30 day billing cycle the target would be 324 gallons per day (13 units x 748 gallons per unit / 30 days). The billing amount for consumption exceeding 13 units in a 30 day period would be $0.0058 per gallon ($4.35 / 748 gallons per unit). This does not address the household size problem but it does fairly address the problem of varying lengths of billing periods.

If no change is made in how the over 13 unit per billing period rate is administered, I request all my summer month billing periods be 23 days and all my winter billing periods be 36 days. I know this is an “unusual” request but, when compared to the current billing practice employed by the City of Antioch Water Department, it is quite reasonable. Also, if the usage in a billing period is less than 13 units, will this be credited against a later billing period where the usage is more than 13? If not, why? Isn’t the goal to save water? Why would it matter in which billing period the saving occurred? After all, your calculation method treats all billing periods as the same.

Striving to become the best version of myself,

Wayne Steffen

2 Comments to “Writer shares concerns about Antioch water reduction goals, rates”

  1. Julio says:

    The system being used by the city of Antioch is indeed flawed and quite possibly illegal. Few people notice the number of “billing days” on their bills. Interesting Mr. Steffen did. Actually more people should be paying a lot of attention to their water bills. Some times it is less than 23 days. It looks like they bill when they think they need money. If they weren’t giving the police department huge sums of money monthly to “guard our water services” they wouldn’t need to raise our bills. In fact they do not need to raise our bills and this may just be going to court.

    Folks, the city has done a snow job on us for the last two mayors and it has gotten much worse under this city manager. Watch what is going on in this city and its finances. It may be too late.

  2. Arne says:

    Not only that, but the bill you will receive in July will apply those new tier rates, even though it will include days in June.

    What the City Council approved was to start July 1, so potentially you could be billed a larger amount that includes days in June.

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