Water Budget FAQs

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Irrigated area
Mow No Mow
Swimming pools
Water rates

What is a water budget?

A water budget is a monthly volume of water for a specific household that meets their indoor and outdoor water needs at an "efficient" use level.

Why has the District implemented a budget-based water rate structure?

The purpose for this rate structure is to ensure compliance with the state mandate for a "20 percent by 2020" reduction, encourage long-term efficient water use and provide an equitable means to reduce use during water shortages. Those who are efficient will pay the lowest water rates. Inefficient users will pay more for wasteful use due to the increased costs associated with their higher demands. Only those accounts that exceed personalized water budgets will be billed at the higher tiered rates, providing a financial incentive to reduce water use and help in managing our limited water resources.

Are other water agencies using this new method?

Yes, a number of agencies have transitioned to water budgets during the last several years and have documented reductions in their per capita water use.

How can I be certain the factors that the District used to calculate my water budget are correct?

Irrigated urban areas, including other features like hardscapes and natural vegetation, were determined by high resolution aerial photography in June 2014, so we may have not accounted for more recent changes to your landscape. 

How can I verify my irrigated area?

You can do actual measurements or go to the LA County Department of Regional Planning website and follow these instructions:

  1. Scroll down and click "Accept Terms & Launch Application."
  2. In the Search bar, type your address with the city or zip code.
  3. After your property is displayed, hover over the “Base Maps” button and check the “LA County Aerial ‘11” box.
  4. Click on the orange box “I Want To…” and then select “Measure something." A “Draw & Measure” window will appear on the left side of your screen.
  5. Follow the instructions. You can draw various shapes like circles, rectangles, polygons or freehand lines to trace the irrigated areas, including swimming pools, at your property. The area measurement will display in the middle of the shape.
  6. Add up all of the areas.

I participated in the "Mow No Mow" program. How will that affect my water budget?

We will work with you to make sure that areas replaced with hardscapes, artificial grass or areas covered with wood chips, mulch or rocks are deducted from your irrigated areas. Areas converted to California-friendly gardens will be treated as irrigated areas.

The public right-of-way extends into my yard. Will I be given a water budget based only on the irrigated area within my property lines?

No. Your water budget will consider all areas you currently irrigate, including areas within the right-of-way. Contact us at Water.Budgets@LVMWD.com so we can correctly adjust your irrigated area. 

So if the outdoor water budget changes each month, that means I may have to make monthly adjustments to my automatic irrigation timer?

Yes. Plants and lawns do not need the same amount of water throughout the year. Significant water can be saved in the winter months with days of shorter sunshine and periods of rain. You can make manual adjustments to watering times, or obtain a new weather-based controller that is programmed to automatically make daily and seasonal adjustments. Rebates are available for qualifying weather-based controllers. Check the SoCal WaterSmart website for details.

How do swimming pools factor into the water budget?

Pools lose about as much water to evaporation as lawns, so pools are considered irrigated landscape in a customer’s water budget. Refilling a pool for maintenance purposes, however, may push your use above your water budget and result in you having to pay a higher cost for water.

Will I be penalized with a smaller water budget for being efficient in the past?

No. Water budgets will be based on an efficient level of use given your current situation (number of people in the home, lot size, weather, etc.) and will not take your prior water use into consideration. Water-efficient customers will not be expected to further cut their water use. Efficiency measures already part of your lifestyle will help you stay within your water budget and keep your water cost down.

Did water rates increase?

Yes. The cost of providing reliable water service and purchasing water from the Metropolitan Water District continues to increase, necessitating rate increases regardless of the implementation of a new rate structure. Water budgets ensure that all District customers are provided a reasonable amount of water based on adopted standards and pay their fair share for basic water service. Under this rate structure, only those customers that exceed their water budgets pay for costs the District would otherwise not incur, such as those for conservation programs and increased cost of service during high demand periods through the higher usage rate tiers.

How were the new water rates determined?

A Financial and Rate Study was conducted to determine the cost of providing service, which is the basis for the rates of different tiers, i.e., indoor need, outdoor need and inefficient use. Inefficient use may be spread out over two tiers, depending on the severity of the wasteful use.

How will the District use the revenues generated from customers who exceed their water budgets?

Revenues generated from customers using water in excess of their water budget will be used to develop programs to help all customers become more water efficient and to acquire water necessary to meet this excessive demand. The purpose of water budget rates is to help all customers achieve efficient water use, not to generate additional revenue.

Can I adjust my water budget if I have more people in my home than what my water budget anticipates?

Yes. We want to make sure every customer has a fair water budget that provides enough water to meet their actual needs, based on the proposed 55 gallons per permanent resident per day. If the number of people living in your home increases, send an email to Water.Budgets@LVMWD.com and we will adjust your water budget accordingly. A corresponding adjustment will be applied to your sanitation (sewer) bill.

Adopted policies regarding adjustments (PDF - 72KB)

How much water will be budgeted for horses and livestock?

Horses and other livestock will be budgeted 30 gallons of water per animal per day, based on research data from the UC Davis Equine Center.

What about other pets such as cats and dogs?

There is no adjustment proposed for cats and dogs as they typically drink less than one gallon of water per day.

Where can I get more information on water budgets?

See How to Live Within My Water Budget (PDF - 253 KB), or click here for additional information. 

You can also sign up to receive enotifications about water budgets and other topics.


Updated September 22, 2017

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