EMWD reduces restrictions on water consumption

PERRIS – Eastern Municipal Water District customers can use a little more water without paying a lot more for it, thanks to action yesterday by the utility’s Board of Directors.

“We sincerely appreciate the commitment our customers have made to help both our region and state conserve water during this unprecedented drought,” EMWD President David Slawson said. “While we are still recovering from the drought, it is evident that we are no longer in a state of emergency with regards to our water supplies, and it is important that our drought status reflects that.”

The EMWD board voted unanimously to drop the utility’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan from stage 3 to stage 2, meaning that if customers exceed their “water budgets,” they will no longer pay significantly higher rates charged for excess usage.

In June 2015, the board imposed penalty rates for excess water consumption based on Gov. Jerry Brown’s mandatory conservation orders, as the state entered its fourth year of drought. In June 2016, the board eased up on outdoor water restrictions but maintained elevated rates to deter waste.

Now households and businesses within the district, which encompasses Hemet, Menifee, Moreno Valley, San Jacinto, parts of Temecula Valley and Winchester, can expect to pay a few dollars less for their excess under the
EMWD’s tiered rate structure, officials said.

Excessive use is determined by calculating a household’s or business’s billing units within their respective water budgets. Each unit represents 748 gallons of water. Budgets are standardized according to the type of structure –
residential or commercial – and based on the typical amount of water consumed for indoor and outdoor purposes.

Since June 1, 2015, the EMWD has saved 28,000 acre-feet of water compared to consumption levels that preceded the drought emergency, according to Slawson. An acre-foot is equivalent to 326,000 gallons. The EMWD joined other utilities and representatives throughout the state in calling on the governor to end the emergency regulations imposed nearly two years ago, noting that Sierra snowpack is at a 20-year high and reservoirs in Northern and Southern California have returned to sustainable levels thanks to winter storms.

On Feb. 8, the State Water Resources Control Board extended the regulations for an indeterminate period.

“Like all Californians, EMWD customers responded with record-setting conservation because they understood that we were in an unprecedented emergency,” Slawson said. “As we are no longer facing such critical conditions, it is equally important that we adjust our policies so that we can maintain public trust.”

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