Water conservation

I-Team In-Depth: CVWD Water Fines Reduce Water Waste as Customers Seek to Conserve and Save Money

Fines for excessive outdoor watering appear to be working for the Coachella Valley Water District, as the state requires water agencies across California to reduce water use during drought. But in an I-Team report, Jeff Stahl finds that some higher-than-expected monthly bills from the Coachella Valley Water District still take customers by surprise.

Many people are taking steps to reduce their water usage while avoiding the overuse fines that have been imposed on Coachella Valley Water District customers since August.

Source: Coachella Valley Water District September Consumption Report

The Water District’s latest monthly update reveals that customers used less water in September and met the state’s desired 15% reduction goal.

At the Mira Vista community in Rancho Mirage, landscape committee member Carol Trentacosta said, “There’s just a little grass left to clear,” while showing off the association’s latest bend conversion project. owners. The project is nearing completion, and locals say it was a no-brainer to move to a desert landscape.

“Where you see all this black tarp here,” HOA board member Guido Portante said, adding, “They put these rocks, there was grass like what we passed.”

The Homeowners Association says this two-month project is costing them $5.92 per square foot. But they get discounts to cover all the expenses. “Basically all the money we spend will be reimbursed,” Trentacosta said.

Rocks, cacti, and a variety of drought-tolerant plants have replaced what were once large expanses of non-functional grass at the HOA’s front door entrance. In June, the state ordered HOAs like Mira Vista not to water decorative lawns not used for recreation or events.

Trentacosta said: “He’s 20 now so he needed a refresh and everything. And that really helped with the cost.

Over the past 10 years, the HOA Board of Directors said it has recouped more than half a million dollars in rebates from the Town of Rancho Mirage and the Water District through turf conversion projects.

CVWD says it’s serious about customers saving 15% of the agency’s overall water use, compared to 2020. It’s a statewide requirement of all agencies in water from March. That’s when Governor Gavin Newsom mandated Level 2 water conservation efforts of water scarcity across the state.

“Level 2 means that even if we don’t have a shortage, we must do our part to conserve water during the statewide emergency.”

Lorraine Garcia, Coachella Valley Water District

Lorraine Garcia of the Coachella Valley Water District said, “Level 2 means that even though we don’t have a shortage, we need to do our part to conserve water during the statewide emergency.

In August, the water district began imposing fines on customers who fail to save 10% of their Tier 2 outdoor irrigation budget. The penalties are in addition to progressively higher water rates, so that the more water you use, the more you will pay for that water. Fines are 29 cents for water consumption over 90% of Tier 2 budgets. Penalties then rise to $1.80 at Tier 3, $3.16 at Tier 4, and a whopping $6 $.44 adding up to $12.88 per unit at level 5.

“Our data and our research showed that 60% of our customers would not be affected,” Garcia said, “because they are already using water efficiently.”

The water district is not allowed to profit from its water sales, despite charging higher tariffs for different levels. Instead, he uses that extra money to pay more people to do lawn renovation projects. There’s a lot more to this story, including how a conservation-minded resident copes with a surprisingly high water bill, how other local water agencies try to meet the state’s conservation mandate. and how you can save water and money on your next bill. during the last California statewide drought.

See Jeff Stahl’s full I-Team report on CVWD water fines Thursday at 6pm on News Channel 3.