SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A Sacramento couple who made it their goal to save water during the drought with a hope of saving money at the same time is now facing a fee for their low water use.

James Fitzpatrick and husband Peter have a lush backyard, complete with fountains that recycle water. The plants at their Midtown Sacramento home sip water, and there’s no water hungry grass.

James lived through the drought in the 1970s, and along with Peter, decided to make changes when the most recent one hit. They turn off the faucet when washing their hands, and collect cold water while the shower warms.

“We’ll take that and pour that into our watering container outside,” he said.

In a month, they watched their water usage fall by 45 percent.

But even with all those savings, they still got a surprise when their monthly bill showed up. Instead of it lowering with their water usage, a new $12.30 fee appeared, labeled as an adjustment to meet the minimum charge.

The city told the couple that the minimum-use fee is needed to help pay for the city’s water system and treatment plants.

But it’s one this couple says they shouldn’t have to pay it when they’re using less, and the fee could end up hurting people who want to help in the drought.

“I’m not going to change what we are doing, but I do fear that some people might be discouraged by this,” he said.

The city water department didn’t respond to CBS13’s questions about what led to this fee being charged.


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