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Water Rate Change FAQ's and Comparison Charts

Why are rates being changed?

RMWD adjusts water rates periodically to meet the fiscal responsibilities of the District.  The last time rates were changes at RMWD was in 2014.   The primary driver for water rate changes are increases in our wholesale water cost, which makes up the majority of our cost of service.

I have been reducing my consumption, but now you are raising rates - that is not fair!

RMWD customers have done a great job responding to the calls for conservation which were made mandatory by the State of California.   It does seem fundamentally unfair to ask people to use less water and then raise the rates.   Unfortunately, there are a good number of fixed costs just to keep the pipes, pumps, tanks, and other parts of the water system running that don't change as the amount of water going through them goes down.   We need to maintain the system so that it is there for you 24/7/365 and when water volume goes down, some of the fixed costs need to be recovered through the water rates.

The rate structure seems to be different than before - what is going on?

RMWD is a unique agency with both agricultural users and residential users.   Finding a water rate structure that meets the needs of both types of users is challenging.   Adding to the complexity is a mandate from the State of California that we adopt a tiered rate structure for our residential customers.   The State of California has also defined new customer classifications for their drought response program that are different than those in use at RMWD.  Based on these factors, the proposed rate structure has a few changes from before.

Why are the fixed fees changing?

All water agencies are subject to rules related to how water rates are set based on Proposition 218.   These rules mandate that a Cost of Service Study be performed that shows how the rates being charged are proportionate to the actual cost of providing the service.  A comprehensive review of our expenses was conducted by an outside firm, Raftelis Financial Consultants, and this study made certain determinations about how the cost of service should be apportioned among the various customer classes and meter sizes.   After this study was completed, it was determined that the fixed costs needed to be adjusted for many classes and sizes of meters.   Some went down, and others went up, but all are proportionate to the cost of providing service.  

Some of you may have heard about the water rate case that was decided earlier this year in San Juan Capistrano.   As part of this ruling, the courts put tight restrictions on how water agencies must apportion their costs such that any sort of situation where one customer class could subsidize another in any way is illegal.   RMWD has always strived to avoid this sort of situation in our water rates  The study performed, along with the proposed rate changes will ensure that each customer pays for the cost of the water served to them and none of the costs for others.

You can download a copy of the report here:

Rainbow Municipal Water District Water Rate Study - Executive Summary.pdf

Why are pumping charges changing so much?

As part of the cost of service study performed for this rate change period, it was determined that the current pump charges were not recovering the costs associated with pumping the water to our customers in pump zones.   Some pump zones have low lift pumps, where they only pump up a small hill, and others have very large lifts where we pump up hundreds of feet.   Water is heavy (8.34 lbs per gallon) and moving it up hills takes a lot of energy.   Our energy costs from SDG&E go up every year and RMWD pumping rates have not changed in five years.   RMWD staff does everything we can to minimize pumping costs, but these changes are required to comply with State law.

How will the rate changes affect me?

As the rate change notice shows, there are four main components to the water bill.   How much your water bill will change depends on how the rates change for your meter size and customer class as well as how much water you use per month.   There are dozens of combinations of customer classes and meter sizes so each bill is unique.  For your convenience we have prepared charts showing the current and proposed rates for nine of the most common customer classes and meter sizes. that you can download below.

Five Eights Inch Residential.pdfThree Quarter Inch Residential.pdfOne Inch Residential.pdfOne Inch Ag with Residence Non TSAWR.pdfOne Inch Ag with no Residence Non TSAWR.pdfOne Inch Residential to One Inch Ag Residential Comparison.pdfOne Inch TSAWR with Residence.pdfOne Inch TSAWR Commercial.pdfTwo Inch TSAWR Commercial.pdf