Coachella Valley Water District

Shadow Bills

CVWD implemented BBRs in 2009. The public outreach process leading up to the approval of the new rate structure was extensive to help build support for the change. Once approved, the outreach priority shifted to educating customers about the new structure and giving advance warning to those who would see an increase in their bills. To do this, CVWD redesigned its monthly bill to provide water budget information three months prior to implementation. These bills compared customers’ water use prior to the pending water budget and provided both the amount due and the amount that would have been due under BBRs.

CVWD knew approximately 70% of residential customers and 53% of dedicated landscape customers would meet their water budget without changing their habits. That left tens of thousands of customers that received warning about a pending increase for three consecutive months. CVWD decided to give customers a three-month warning before tiered rates went into effect for several different reasons. Primarily, CVWD was implementing tiered rates to promote conservation, not raise revenue. The district knew many customers would make changes to their water use habits immediately after learning that they would be paying a higher rate. CVWD also knew that some customers, especially dedicated landscape customers such as homeowner associations, cities and schools, would need time to make significant water reductions, such as through turf conversion or irrigation audits. The three-month delay gave customers a fair and reasonable amount of time to start making changes.

The first month the tiered rates went into effect, CVWD received a large amount of phone calls from customers swearing they had never been informed about tiered rates. However, there is no doubt that the amount of calls was decreased by the extra effort put into warning not only about the new rate structure, but exactly how it would affect each customer.