Mid-October is the time for frugal residents of Lake Havasu City to start conserving water with winter averaging right around the corner. But 2020 may be its last hurrah with the city reconsidering all aspects of its water and sewer systems.

The city uses winter averaging to set sewer rates for citizens and businesses by tracking water use for five months during the winter. The city’s water department will start reading meters for winter averaging in mid-November to early December – depending on the location – and will continue through March and early April. The city will then take the lowest three months of water use and average them together to determine the monthly sewer rate for the property.

For residential water use, the base sewer charge is $41 for monthly average water use of 562 cubic feet or less. Every additional 100 cubic feet adds $7.30 to the base monthly fee.

Since each reading accounts for the preceding month, now is the time to adjust water use accordingly.

“It is an advantage for individuals trying to reduce their average water consumption in order to reduce their overall cost for water over that 12 months period,” said Assistant to the City Manager Anthony Kozlowski. “It’s another unofficial tool that the city has introduced to try to afford individuals with that ability to save water.”

But the practice is being reviewed as part of a comprehensive look into how much Havasu’s water and sewer systems cost to operate and how they are paid for.

On Sept. 8 the Lake Havasu City Council voted to hire Willdan Financial Services to conduct the utility rate study in light of the Irrigation and Drainage District’s impending expiration on July 1, 2022. Although the immediate need for the study was to examine how to replace the $5.8 million in annual funding for water infrastructure which will be lost when the IDD goes away, the utility rate study is taking a comprehensive look at the systems costs and revenues.

A little more than a month into the study Kozlowski, who is taking the lead on the project for the city, said things are still on schedule.

“We are in the early stages of determining what the future of winter averaging will be,” Kozlowski said. “This will be a collective effort as we continue to move forward with the utility rate study. The public will be made well aware of what our thought process is. As our consultant brings back a number of ideas and approaches, the public will be involved in that process as well.”

Kozlowski said he hopes to have some concepts ready to discuss with the public in the next few months, but no public meetings have been scheduled yet. According to the statement of work with Willdan, the study is expected to be completed by the end of the year, with the public hearing for rate adoption tentatively planned for end of January.

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