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Tiered pricing considered by officials

Newport Beach administrators weigh plan to introduce tiered pricing in an effort to conserve water.

August 11, 2008|By Daniel Tedford

Water agencies focus the bulk of their conservation efforts on residential water usage, as the majority of use comes from outside residential homes — about 60% is the industry standard, Myrter said. The most common culprit of water waste is when residents overwater their lawns, he said. Water agencies and cities address a number of conservation issues through education and awareness, but that may not be enough.

The city has commissioned studies to determine the cost of implementing a price tiering system — which could be expensive due to the computer system needed — and is evaluating the 26,300 accounts in Newport Beach to determine what an appropriate allocation would be for each customer. Those studies are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

“While we certainly support measures to conserve water, as evidenced by promoting high-tech weather-based irrigation systems, at the same time, we must be careful to ensure that Newport Beach maintains its traditional rights to water use,” Councilwoman Leslie Daigle wrote in an e-mail to the Daily Pilot.

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In any circumstance where lifestyle changes may be enforced, some residents may not agree with their allocation amounts. For every building or home with 100 cubic feet of water use, the Newport Beach rate is $2.08, under the uniformed commodity rate system. If a price tier was implemented, those who remained within their allocated amount would likely pay less than that, Myrter said.

“What is most important about a water rate structure is that it’s fair and equitable,” Daigle said. “It’s politically correct to conserve water, but it could result in a practical problem down the line. If the [Municipal Water District of Orange County] takes the savings from us to add new users and then there’s a shortage in the future, then everyone is usually asked to cut the same percent. If we are down to the bone to begin with, then cutting will be very painful and may not be voluntary.”


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