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6 - Discussion about water budgetsCITY OF BOULDER WATER RESOURCES ADVLSORY BOARD AGENDAITEM MEETING DATE: ~uly 16, 2007 AGENDA TITLE: Discussion about water budgets. PRESENTER/S: WRAB members At its June 28 meeting, the WRAB members decided to include a discussion about water budgets at the July 16~ meeting. Attachment A was developed and provided by 7im Knopf as a way to focus the discussion. Jim will provide an update about the meeting on July 9 that included Deputy Mayor Ageton, Jim Knopf, Bill DeOreo, Frank Bruno, Stephanie Grainger and Ned Williams. At the July 16`~ WRAB meeting, Ned Williams, Paul Lander (Water Conservation Specialist) and Britt Faulkner ('I'emporary Water Conservation Technician) will be in attendance to answer questions. Attachment: A- The Boulder Water Budget Program - MAKING TI' WORK WELL, 7/8/07 AGENDA ITEM #~~PAGE ~ ATTACHMENT A The Boulder Water Budget Program MAKING IT WORK WELL 11 July '07 There have been a lot of reactions to the water budget program since it started on January First, and it's clear that there are a number of relatively small "doable" things that will help it work well. The following concerns and requests come from an array of sources including WRAB members, irrigation professionals, Boulder Tomorrow representatives, and more. 1. Coimnercial -Industrial Customars... A. 12 identical monthly budgets vs. historic use...In Dec 2004, WRAB encouraged a so-called "classic water budget program" which included use of historic water consumption as the basis for commercial-industrial customers, including those doing limited outdoor irrigation via the same meter used for indoor water. The current policy of dividing the total annual water use by 12, totally ignores the reality of legitimately using some water outside to maintain landscaping, including some on city ROW property. To force smaller businesses to spend thousands of dollars to install outside meters for very small landscapes is completely unreasonable. As soon as possible, this policy of 12 equal water budgets needs to be changed to reflect historic use patterns more accurately. B. Problems with chaage in occupaacy, vacant space, etc. Boulder Tomorrow reported a number of situations where budgets were based on a time when pr.operties were not fully occupied. This needs to be considered, and timely adjustments made. 2. Budget Adjustments... A. Refunds for incorrect bi11s...The current city policy of NOT refunding money collected from adjusted inaccurate water budgets, should be corrected immediately. All collections based on adjusted water budgets should be retroacti~e to 1 January '07, when the program started. 8. City R.O.W. laadscaping. ..People need to be notified that the initial budgets did NOT include an ~ allocation for the city right of way that adjacent property owners are required to maintain. There should be some public information (especially on water bills) that encourages people to request adjustments to provide for maintaining these landscapes, which include nearly all the street trees in the city. - C. Ti.mely Adjustments...Boulder Tomorrow reported at the May WRAB meeting, that it was taking too long to get appropriate adjustments to water budgets. This needs immediate attention. 3, Multi-family -HOA issues... A. Indoor laundry & other co~non indoor facilities...There need to be timely adjustments for problems related to legitimate use of water in common indoor facilities. Appropriate parties need to be notified that such adjustments are available. 8. Iaaccurate counts of uait occupancy, siagle-family vs. duplexes, etc... Boulder Tomorrow reported the need to make timely adjustments with these problems. C. Teanaxit/Owner/ City commuaications...Too often the wrong party is getting the information from the city. This needs to be consciously addressed. 4. Parks aad Transportatioa...There should be a report on how both parks and transportation are doing regarding their water budgets. Undeveloped park land and medians should NOT be included, because it will "mask" whether irrigated areas are being over-watered. Four parks were studied last year, and it was found that rotor heads were given the same time as spray heads. This means the spray areas got too much water, and the rotor areas got too little. This can easily be corrected by adjusting the controllers, but it has been reported that no controller reprogramming has been done. Baseline median irrigation from 30th to Foothills Parkway was redone last year, but there appears to be no irrigation this year so far. The medians should have been regraded so the new heads could be set below the curb for protection from snow plows. Last winter nearly all the heads were "mowed off" by snow plows. 5. Discuss water consumption chracteristics...by customer class, rate blocks, and revenue generated. ~ 6. Raport oa computar program capabilities...There has been a suggestion that staff persons who are responsible for implementing the system from a billing and customer service perspective introduce themselves to WRAB, and explain what they do. There is interest in hearing their ideas for making things work as well as possible. 7. Coaservation budget Lina Item...There is interest in discussing what is included in the conservation budget. B. water Bi11s...It would be very good to include the price of water in all blocks on the bill, so that people can be aware of the higher costs for excessive use, BEFORE they use too much. 9. Reguired landscapes that waste water...It has been reported that some city regulations require landscapes that cannot be maintained on the assigned water budgets. This should be reviewed, and corrected if true. We would like to see examples of cases where this was found to occur. 10. Need for "current" mater readiags ...Brent Mecham (Northern Water Conservation District) recently wrote in Colorado Green, that in order for water budget programs to work~smoothly, everyone needs to be able to read their meters. This is true. The Badger Orion remote readers are ideally suited to providing this information, but few people _. are aware that they exist. A. Meter reading policy...BOUlder needs to review its policies about meter reading, and like most cities, it should encourage meter reading to detect leaks, and irrigate efficiently. B. Remote meter readers...free remote meter readers should be provided to all WRAB, Planning Board, Parks Board, and City council members so they can become fully aware of how this technology works. Each reader should include a table that people can use to record their water use and compare it to their monthly water budgets. 11. Customer Service... A. Water Budget "Eact Sheat°, °Iaformation Notes", Newsletter, or ... Regular communication via inserts in the bills and on the website can help keep customers informed, especially as new considerations emerge. This will be especially helpful if always available for easy access in the same format and in the same places. B. Budget Number Confusion...Water budget numbers on the monthly bills never exactly match the budget numbers based on each month's percent of the annual total, or the ~~ amount predicted the previous month. Apparently, this happens because meters are often measured on a different day each month, resulting in a fewer or more days in the billing period, and rarely match the calendar month. It would help to explain this to customers in a water budget "fact sheet" (possibly included in the water bill mailings), and on the website. C. Solicit Customer Suggestions...there should be an initiative to solicit suggestions from customers asking for ideas that will help make the program go better, and help - customers use water more wisely. This should NOT be worded as "what's wrong". It should be aimed at getting helpful suggestions for improvements. 12. Water Sudgets & PIF fees...Discuss how this can be coordinated and made as fair as possible. 13. Drought Response P1an...Discuss how water budgets can be integrated with the drought response plan. In times of drought the concept has been to reduce budgets enforced with meter reading, instead of issuing detailed restrictions enforced with water cops. There should be discussion of how best to do this to avoid unnecessary economic, landscape and public relations damage. 14. Future plans for the mater budget program...discuss ideas for the next several years. WRAB Water Sudget Study Session... Several WRAB members have suggested a study session focused entirely on the water budget program...as soon as possible. ~41