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Amid California Drought, Some Charged For Not Using Enough Water

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Maria Medina Maria Medina
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MARYSVILLE (CBS13) — It’s the kind of thing that doesn’t seem possible in a record-setting drought—a Marysville man says he’s being charged money for not using enough water.

Marysville City Councilman Christopher Pedigo claims the drought will force him and other Californians to pour their hard earned money into the bank accounts of private water companies statewide.

“I just see it as an unfair and a broken system,” he said. “They have to pay for conserving water.”

While it’s still too early to tell if it will happen, he is correct: Private water companies can charge customers for cutting back on water use.

It’s called the Water Revenue Adjustment Mechanism. Every three years, private water companies project how much customers in their areas will use and set a fixed rate.

If customers use less water than projected, the companies have to make up for the revenue loss and charge the customers a WRAM surcharge every month. If customers use more water than projected, the companies give out refunds.

“I think it’s an unfair use of the system that was created by the Public Utilities Commission,” Pedigo said.

But the PUC created it so private water companies would promote conservation instead of being afraid of losing money during low usage years.

“They get the feeling that they’re paying more for using less, and it’s really not true,” said Lee Seidel with the California Water Service Company. “The fact is, if you use less, then you pay less.”

Pedigo says he’s speaking for many people who believe you shouldn’t have to pay if he’s using less.

“You’re asking a ratepayer to support a private for-profit company and now you’re going to, as a state or government, you’re going to ask us to conserve,” he said.

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