- When did the rates increase?
- In July 2022, the Madera City Council approved a multi-year plan to implement changes to utility rates in order to finance necessary repairs and improvements to Madera's water system. The initial rate adjustment came into effect on August 1, 2022. The second planned rate adjustment is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2023, and will be reflected in the utility bills for the month of July. If you would like more details or access to a comprehensive rate schedule, please visit madera.gov/rates or get in touch with the Finance Department at (559) 661-5459.
- Why are water rates going up if the drought requires us to use less water?
The updated water rates have been carefully adjusted to consider the State's previous directives on conserving water. These adjustments aim to reduce water consumption by around 20% to 28% through initial conservation efforts. While some operational expenses, like the electricity needed to run pumps, decrease when water usage is reduced, most costs associated with the water system remain unchanged. These costs include maintaining the distribution system, monitoring water quality, and making payments for past water bonds.
Additionally, the persistent drought has imposed extra financial burdens on maintaining water wells. To compensate for the declining rate of water production, plans are underway to install additional above-ground water storage in the coming years. This extra storage is crucial to ensure an adequate water supply during periods of high demand and to maintain sufficient reserves for firefighting purposes.
To guarantee the long-term sustainability of the water system and cover the necessary operational expenses, it is necessary to establish rates that remain consistent regardless of the amount of water consumed. This approach ensures that the financial needs of operating the water system can be met effectively and ensures its continued functionality.
- How are the rates determined?
The City retains outside consultants who specialize in the analysis of public utility service costs to conduct studies for reviewing current and projected costs of our sewer and water systems. The objective of rate studies is to determine whether rate adjustments are necessary to ensure that the systems can be safely operated and maintained. The analysis identifies the areas that require an increase in rates to cover routine operations and maintenance, major repair and replacement, new capital projects, and debt payments for bonds that were previously sold to make improvements to utility systems.
- What can I do to reduce my water bill?
Reducing the amount of outside irrigation is the most significant way to reduce the charges from your metered use. On average, 60% of the water used by a residence is used outdoors for irrigation, and watering your lawn is likely your single largest water use. Making sure you have efficient fixtures in your home, including shower heads, toilets, and washing machines will also help you conserve water and lower your bill. In order to conserve water, consider installing aerators on bathroom faucets (saves 1.2 gallons/day per person), washing only full loads of laundry (saves 15 – 45 gallons/load), turning off the water when brushing your teeth or shaving (saves 10 gallons/day per person), reducing shower time (could save 10 – 20 gallons/shower), fixing leaky toilets (saves 30 – 50 gallons/day per toilet), installing efficient watersense-labeled shower heads (saves 1.2 gallons/minute), and/or installing efficient watersense-labeled toilets (saves 19 gallons/day). The City has a host of rebates available to financially assist you in these efforts.
- Is funding available to assist residents with water conservation?
The City provides the water conservation rebates listed here. The State of California also has a turf replacement rebate program which can be combined with the City’s rebate program for turf replacement. If you are interested in receiving information about either State or local rebate programs, contact the Water Conservation Unit in Public Works at (559) 661-5466.
- Why do water rates vary from city to city?
No two cities are the same. There are many factors that impact the cost of providing municipal water such as the age of the system and the availability of surface water. Rates can only be set to reflect each system’s costs of providing the water and related services. Unlike a private water company, there are no profits generated in a municipally owned system. Revenue from the rates collected by the City cannot be used for unrelated expenses such as costs of police, fire, or parks. The individual fees that are charged must be representative of the services received. This means one category of customers cannot pay for higher costs associated with a different set of customers. That is why there are tiers for consumption, so that higher consuming users can pay for system enhancements needed to provide the capacity for their increased usage.
- Is financial assistance available for people who are on low or fixed income?
The City is prohibited by law from discounting water rates for any category of users. However, there are other programs that provide assistance to families or individuals who are struggling with their utility bills. A list of financial assistance programs can be found here. The City’s Utility Billing Division does offers special payment plans to qualified customers that may be having financial difficulties. Those customers have to communicate with Utility Billing before their water is shut off to qualify for a special payment plans and to avoid further fees and penalties. Utility Billing will work with and assist customers in any way they can. It is very important to communicate with Utility Billing when assistance is needed and to stick to any special payment arrangements that are agreed upon.
- Who do I call if I have a question about my utility bill?
The Utility Billing Division can be reached at (559) 661-5459. They can assist you with your account balances. If you suspect a bad meter reading or other problems with your meter, contact the Public Works Department at (559) 661-5466.
- What are the penalties for watering violations?
- The 1st violation is a $75 fine
- The 2nd violation within a year is a $200 fine
- The 3rd violation within a year is a $500 fine
- Does the City use surface water or well water?
Currently all the City’s water comes from groundwater wells. There is no immediate opportunity to use surface water. However, the City is always watching for economic opportunities to diversify its water sources.
- How pure is the City's water supply?
The water quality in the City is excellent. Rigorous testing is conducted on a weekly basis to ensure its safety and purity. Visit the following link to access the annual water quality report, which provides comprehensive information about all the tests conducted and the results obtained for the City's water supply.
- Are there any programs/resources available that offer financial assistance with utility bills?
Yes! Please see financial assistance resources listed below:
Help With Your Utility Bills: California –HUD
Madera County assistance programs – Need Help Paying Bills
Madera CA – Energy Assistance Programs
California Assistance Programs – Need Help Paying Bills
Help Paying Utility Bills –CA CSD
Financial Assistance In Madera, CA / Suntopia.org
Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help
Help To Pay Utility Bills / FreeFedGrantMoney.com
Receive Free Government Grants for Help To Pay Utility Bills.
Migrant Farm Workers: Central Valley Opportunity Center (CVOC)
Madera Satellite Training Center, 1930 Howard Rd, Suite 125, Madera, CA 93637 (559)662-0100