Up The Creek
May 1, 2006
Now that the season is warming up, and yards are needing water, here are some items that might help you arm yourself against high water bills.
• Meters are being read - the USCDWUA meters are read from March through October. They are not read during the winter, and you are not charged for overuse from October to March. “Overuse” is defined as the amount of water used in excess of the 7,500 gallons per month allowed with the base rate.
• Meters are not always read the same day of month - the system is divided into five meter reading cycles. The time frame allowed for reading a cycle is three days. Cycle one begins on the 18th day of the month and runs through the 20th. Cycles overlap, so cycle two begins on the 20th, ends on the 22nd, and so on. Therefore, your meter might get read on the 20th of March, and on the 22nd of April, a period of 34 days. Our billing software takes this into account when calculating the usage, so you don’t get jabbed for a 34-day “month.”
• Billing and meter reading periods are not synchronized - billing is done at the end of the calendar month. However, the charge is based on water used during the meter reading month, which may begin and end on the 18th, for example in the case of cycle one.
• Meters don’t lie - well, that statement itself is a lie, because meters routinely do register less water than actually passes through them. The inventor who finally succeeds in making a meter speed up as it ages will own the world. I know we’d buy ‘em.
• Tap water is bad for grass - well, another lie, but indirectly true. You won’t kill grass by watering it with the USCDWUA product. You will kill it with your rototiller after you receive a bill for the water it took to keep it lush and green through a hot dry July. Of all the yard plants, grass is by far the greatest water user. A rough way to predict the cost of sustaining Kentucky bluegrass is to count the blades and assign a dollar value to each blade based on color, ranging from dead brown ($0) to bright green ($1).
• Smelly people aren’t cheaper - taking showers, washing clothes, and flushing toilets are not to blame for a big water bill. However, if you want to make that claim in order to get rid of some persistent company, we’ll back you up - for a fee.
• Leaks are bad - even a seemingly insignificant one can waste an astounding amount of water. We try to be fair in making allowances for leaks that were beyond your control, if you promptly report them and promptly fix them. We usually don’t regard the fact that you went away for a month leaving your neighbor in charge of your yard a “leak that was beyond your control.” Get to know thy neighbor extremely well before trusting him with a hose.
• Automated watering systems can save you money - by applying water at the right place and right time. However, the flip side is that a whole-yard systems involve a lot of piping and fixtures, requiring proper installation and proper maintenance. Automatic systems, like any piping network, can develop leaks that may offset all your gains. The same caveat applies to your installer as to the helpful neighbor above.
• Don’t worry, be happy - this letter isn’t intended to convey gloom and fear. Lots of our customers have lovely yards, some xeriscaped, and some traditional. It’s not illegal or immoral to use our domestic water on plants. But, unfortunately, it will never be cheap. Keep your expectations realistic, learn as much as you can about drought resistant varieties, and establish your priorities. If the satisfaction of a green vista is important, and the kids still have shoes, go for it.