We get this question a lot: “My friend in Temecula (or San Diego, or any other urban area) has a water bill that is lower than mine. Why are RMWD’s fixed water fees higher than theirs?” It is a valid question for which there is no simple answer. Here are some of the reasons our rate structure is different than other areas:
We Are A Large Rural District
RMWD is over 80 square miles with fewer than 7800 service connections. Taken another way, we have fewer than 100 accounts per square mile. Our neighbor to the North, Rancho Water is about 156 square miles with over 40,000 accounts, or 256 per square mile. Every place where we serve water we need to have pipelines, tanks, valves, pump stations, etc. in order to get the water to you. The cost to maintain those assets are similar between the two agencies, but Rancho Water can split their costs among 2.5 times as many customers as we can. We work hard to keep your costs low, so while Rancho Water’s fixed charge for a ¾ residential meter varies between $21.22 and $40.58, RMWD’s is only $24.40 per month. While it may seem high to you, the reality is that we are striving to keep these fees as low as possible.
Our Costs Include San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) Charges
RMWD pays fixed fees to SDCWA that use the 3-10 year rolling average of our consumption to set the fees. These costs are for the use of the SDCWA pipeline network, treatment plants, and emergency storage facilities. We pass through these fixed charges to our customers as a separate line item in our bills. Other than for our large agricultural customers who qualify for a special rate from SDCWA, the fixed charges from SDCWA are larger than the fixed charges from RMWD in every rate class. Over time, as our water purchases from SDCWA decline, the fixed charges should go down. With that said, SDCWA may increase or alter its calculation methodology so we cannot promise that these fees will go down.