Reading That Water Bill

Now that Coalinga residents are on watch, many are scrambling to make sense out of their city utility bills. All residents should know by now that the allotment for each address is 15,000 gallons of water per month.

If users are able to keep their usage within that frame, no extra costs will be incurred. But be careful! It is easy to go over. Coalinga Press is working to get clarification on several points and will add pertinent information as it becomes available. At this point, we can affirm that the number under “usage” on the city bill represents the actual number of gallons in the thousands. So to arrive at the actual total, a resident can change that decimal to a comma and add a zero to make it 35,900 gallons instead of 35.90.

The usage number comes from converting the cubit feet used which is what the water meter actually tracks. Because water is purchased by the city by cubit feet rather than gallons, that is how it is initially measured when it is used. There is a formula to calculate usage from the cubic feet, but (IMHO) it’s complicated and totally unnecessary.

The City of Coalinga plans to release information instructing residents how to read their water meters on their own so they can check usage. This is coming soon (or so I have been told).

No one wants the surprise of a stunning water bill. Some residents may find it useful to invest in one of several water meter units that can be attached either to a single hose or to the meter as a whole. A cheaper, low tech meter is a single hose unit that tracks water use from that one hose. That might help monitor outdoor watering.

The superstar meter is one that even makes it possible to monitor water usage from your smart phone. This unit: Flume 2 Smart Home WiFi Water Monitor and Leak Detector: Detect Water Leaks Before They Cause Damage. Monitor Your Water Use in Real Time to Reduce Waste. Installs in Minutes, No Plumbing Required is available on Amazon. It keeps track of water usage in real time. It’s not cheap, but at $199, it offers some comfort as a user can keep track of exact use.

The hose attachment water meters are very inexpensive, ranging in price from $18.99+. These are also available on Amazon as well as through many other businesses. These simply screw onto the hose, and the rest is all done automatically.

Although it may seem unfair to have water use distributed by household as opposed to number of people living in each home, the City and Coalinga City Council agreed that this was an optimal system. The City of Coalinga normally buys its water at a lower fee, as represented by the charts. Once the City has exhausted that water supply, they will be paying substantially more than the current price. The costs on the chart reflect the amount Coalinga will have to pay if their allotment of water is exhausted before supplies are replenished.

Editorial note: Although the city expressed extreme concern and disappointment, it is not a disastrous chart of water usage. Looking at last year during the same time frame, 78 percent of households managed to either keep the water use level or lower this year. There was a 22 percent of residents who did not seem to notice the water shortage at all.