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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

California OKs Rewards for Smart Water Usage

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) - One of California's largest water providers can reward customers who use the resource efficiently under a new plan approved by the state.

California American Water Company's new tiered structure rolls out to customers in Sonoma, Ventura, Los Angeles and San Diego counties as part of a settlement with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The plan rewards customers who fix leaks, install water-efficient appliances and avoid overirrigating their lawns.

Under the new structure, customers will pay less for using less water. The company, commonly known as CalAm, previously charged the same rates for high and low levels of water use.

CalAm - one of the largest investor-owned water companies in the state - petitioned the California Public Utilities Commission to increase its rates for water service. The NRDC intervened, hoping to promote state goals of a 20 percent reduction in per capita water use by 2020.

"Water in California is a precious resource and should be treated that way," NRDC senior policy analyst Ed Osann said in a statement. "California American Water Company's new rate structure rewards customers who are smart about their water use, and incentivizes heavy users to make their water habits more efficient. This four-tier rate structure is a good model for helping California meet state water efficiency goals and we encourage other water utilities around the state to consider adopting similar structures."

CalAm president Rob MacLean agreed.

"California American Water is proud of the agreement we reached on rate design with NRDC and other parties in our 2012 general rate case," MacLean said in a statement. "The structure maintains affordable water service for routine indoor water uses while encouraging efficiency for those who use more water. I'm pleased that NRDC and California American Water were able to partner on creating this common sense rate design."

The NRDC said that its proposal to increase the monthly billing credit available to CalAm's low-income customers is still pending before the Public Utilities Commission.

With 1.3 million members, and represented by 350 lawyers, scientists and other professionals, the NRDC describes itself as "the nation's most effective environmental action group." The nonprofit dedicates itself to curbing global warming, reviving oceans, curbing pollution and fostering sustainable communities.

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