Grover Beach residents pay the fifth-highest water rates in San Luis Obispo County, according to city data. But by July, they could be paying one of the lowest rates.
Starting July 1, 2021, Grover Beach water bills will switch from a flat rate to a tiered system based on usage as adopted by the city council in May.
The more water you use, the more you will pay and vice versa.
“Roughly 80% of our residential customers will see a decrease in their water and sewer rates as a result of this structure,” said Grover Beach City Manager Matthew Bronson. “Our average total utility rate will be the second-lowest rate among other cities in the county."
Based on a new five-year study, a typical single-family home using an average of 14 units of water every two months could see a $29 decrease on their bi-monthly bills, going from roughly $112 to $84.
If a household on average uses 40 units of water or more, their bill will increase by about $17.
“I don't want to be in that upper tier that's going to carry the brunt, so we want to keep in the lower tier. How can we control that to remain in that tier is our concern," resident Annabelle Ioannides said.
Residents are not only trying to lower utility bills but also conserve water in the extreme drought.
“I went to the city once and asked how I could get the water bill down and they said to not flush my toilets and not water my yard so that's what we do,” resident Vicki Reed said.
The city of Grover Beach declared a Stage 1 Water Emergency in May with some mandatory restrictions ahead of summer.
“It's a financial incentive to encourage water conservation which is critical given the drought conditions we are facing in our region,” Bronson said.
The new rates are set to increase every July over the next five years, starting with a 2% increase to a 4% increase in the fourth and fifth years.
Businesses will see the biggest cost increase with the new tiers, ranging from $11 to $42 more per billing cycle depending on water usage.
“We will be working with our residential customers for rate increases if there are some cases that have some financial difficulties,” Bronson said. “We can work with some businesses on a case-by-case basis to address those needs."
According to city documents, water and sewer rates help fund capital infrastructure projects, maintenance, and budget reserves among other things.