The board passed the motion 4-1 at the June 17 regular CSD meeting, Director David Piepho casting the dissenting vote, saying that postponing the installation will cost residents more money in the long run. The board will revisit the project in June or July of 2010.
Under the provisions of a new statewide water conservation mandate, all residential properties are to be operating with water meters by 2024. In Discovery Bay, 1,600 of the town’s roughly 6,000 homes have operational meters, and another 300 must be on line by 2010 to meet government mandates. The remaining 4,200 homes must be on meters by 2024.
General Manager Virgil Koehne, however, said he believed the board’s decision to wait on installing the rest of the new meters – despite the 15-year window – sends the wrong message to the public. “I believe that it (postponing the program) says to the community that we don’t care about water conservation,” said Koehne.
“I don’t think we are saying ‘go ahead and run your faucets; we don’t care,’” said Director Shannon Murphy-Teixeira. “I think the message is that we are trying to take care of the people who live here.”
Lakeshore resident Bob Mankin, whose home is equipped with a new meter, said he, like Pipho, believed the postponement of the remainder of the water meters would end up costing residents money in terms of their water bill. “I’m going to save $150 this year,” said Mankin, who lives in the Lakeshore development. “It (the new meter) will pay for itself in a year. Saving a buck today isn’t going to save in the long run.”
Discovery Bay’s residential property owners are currently charged a flat rate for water based on lot size. As homes are converted to water meters, homeowners will receive regular water invoices from the town and will no longer be billed on their tax statements.
In parallel CSD business, the board at the same meeting also agreed to amp up efforts to bring the town’s large water users current on their bills. A large water user is defined as a commercial business or other non-residential user such as a landscaping company or homeowners association. Of the 93 large water users in Discovery Bay, two of the businesses owe a combined total of more than $70,000 in outstanding fees.
“The reason they are seriously delinquent is because when they got their (new) bills, they balked about the high costs, so we went back and spent some time analyzing to see if we did something wrong,” said Koehne. “Since then, one of the users has worked out a payment plan with us and the other has just received a new bill, which they are reviewing.”
In late May, the town issued letters to the last of the 13 large water users targeted for new meters, giving them 30 days to get the meters installed. The users have the option of installing the meters themselves or letting the town install them. Either way, if the meters are not on line by the end of July, the town will install the meters for those users, and bill them for the service.