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Turlock residents get a preview of metered water bills

POSTED April 6, 2010 9:16 p.m.
The City of Turlock won’t implement its new, state-mandated metered residential water billing until Jan. 1, 2011. But the city is already letting consumers know just how the change will affect their monthly bills.
In this month’s water bill, many City of Turlock residential water customers found a sheet detailing month-by-month water usage for the past year. Based on last year’s usage, the sheet details what the homeowner’s monthly bill would have been if the new metered billing system was in use.
“Some people are happy to hear they aren’t using that much water, but others are surprised at how much they are using,” said Michael Cooke, Turlock Regulatory Affairs manager.
According to Cooke, most users should expect to see more expensive bills in the summer and cheaper bills in the winter once metered billing is implemented. On average, annual total bills should balance out to about the same as customers currently pay.
Cooke said the average family uses about 300 gallons of water each day for indoor uses, such as showering, washing clothes, and using the restroom. But sprinklers run during the summer months can account for 80 percent of residential water use, totaling 2,000 gallons of water in an hour span.
If residents find that their bills would be a bit pricey in summer months with the new metered billing, Cooke suggests gradually cutting back on sprinkler usage to see just how much water that landscaping really needs.
“You can probably get by with a lot less water than you think,” Cooke said.
If Turlockers missed the note packed in with this month’s bill — or want a bit more detail on their daily use — the City of Turlock Web site now offers a new online utility with comprehensive water usage information.
Available under the Utility Billing section of the City of Turlock Web site, customers can register their e-mail address, input their utility account number, and enter the last four digits of their social security number for detailed water use information. By double clicking on a month, daily usage data is available.
“With this you can get an up-to-the-minute water reading without having to lift the cover for your box and deal with slugs and black widows,” Cooke said.
The City of Turlock engineered the new Web site in response to customer concerns over the switch to metered billing, based on technology developed for the note sent along with this month’s bill. Both source their data from the wireless meter reader boxes installed at every home in the city, in accordance with the state-mandated switchover to metered billing.
Through this finely detailed data, Cooke said he’s been able to help customers figure out which particular days they use the most water, sometimes tracking down a hose left on or a forgotten fill of a swimming pool. For customers who don’t have access to the Internet, Cooke said Municipal Services staff could answer water usage questions over the phone.
For more information, contact Turlock Municipal Services at 668-5590. To check your projected bill online, visit http://www.turlock.ca.us/citydepartments/administrativeservices/financedivision/utilitybilling/
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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