September 2007

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USCDWUA FAQWA (Frequently Asked Questions With Answers)


Q:  Why do you charge me a monthly $29 fee for my tap, which is not installed, and has never used a drop of water?

A:  Because we’re not really charging just for water.

Q:  But I thought this was a water company. What else are you charging me for?

A:  All of the costs that go into keeping the Association operating, viable, and able to provide water when you are ready to use your tap.

Q:  Then why not include those costs in the price of water delivered to your active customers?

A:  Here’s the math: our 2007 revenue requirement is $750 thousand. We will provide 100 million gallons of water, which equals ¾¢ per gallon. If we charge only for water used, then 7,500 gallons (the amount included in the monthly flat rate) will cost $56.25 instead of $29. You and other inactive tap owners would pay zero.

Q:  What’s wrong with that? An active tap costs the Association, whereas my inactive tap does not, because no water needs to be provided.

A:  Actually, the active tap costs very little more. The purchase and treatment of water is only about 5% of our cost of operation. In other words, 95% of our costs would still be there even if nobody used water.

Q:  It sounds like you mark up the cost of water by about 2000 per cent!

A:  If you want to look at it that way. By that accounting, bottled water selling at $4.00 per gallon is probably marked up about 11,000 per cent.

Q:  All right, since you don’t exactly charge for water, and if water is a minor part of your cost, please explain the rate schedule, which gets progressively more outrageous as my usage increases.

A:  Usage? I thought your tap was inactive.

Q:  This is a different questioner. The other one gave up in disgust. I’m trying to find out why using 50,000 gallons per month should cost almost twice as much as 40,000 gallons.

A:  Frankly, we are not thrilled about anybody using even 40,000 gallons, let alone 50,000. If all our active taps used that, the resulting demand would exceed: (1) the capacity of our treatment plant, (2) the ability of our system to deliver it, and (3) any reasonable definition of “domestic water use,” which does not include irrigation. We have to limit system demand to assure service to all our members, including the presently inactive taps. Speaking of which, where is that guy, anyway?

Q:  I’m here, and I have been listening. Since you gouge active taps for high water use, why not apply that windfall revenue to us inactives, and give us a break?

A:  “Windfall revenue” is a good description. It’s like the weather, undependable and unpredictable.

Q:  New and innocent questioner here. Last month I used 10,101 gallons, exactly the same as the month before. But my bill was different from the month before. I think your computer burped.

A:  No, there was more elapsed time between meter readings in one of the months. Our billing software calculates your gallons used per day, then multiplies by 30.5, which is our definition of a “month.” This is to compensate for the fact that anywhere from 27 to 34 days may elapse between meter readings. This method does not penalize your for a short month, but it does protect you from a long month.

Q:  Can’t you just read them on the same day every month?

A:  Such regularity would violate our whole attitude here at Up The Creek, which, as you have probably guessed, is strictly arbitrary.  


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