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City hopes residents gearing up for metered water rates
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The era of flat rate water rates ends in Ceres with the coming of metered rate bills in January.

Many Ceres residents know it's coming but overall not many are taking advantage of setting up an online account through the city's website ( to monitor water use.

Of the 11,450 Ceres households equipped with new meters and a radio transmitter, only about 500 have opened online accounts. An even smaller percentage has signed up for email alerts should the system detect excessive use or leaks of the water system.

The city has been engaged in a lengthy education campaign to get residents up to speed as to the facts about metered rates, said Water Superintendent Jeremy Damas. He and city staff members have taken the time to field questions about the switchover. For about five months the city has also been issuing water bills comparing how the flat rate of $30.25 per month would compare under the metered rate.

Households will be billed for water on the basis of a $19.67 per month charge coupled with a 69 cents per 1,000 gallons consumed. The average Ceres household uses 15,000 gallons of water each month, said Damas. Those who use lots of water will see an increase in bills while those who conserve water will likely see a decrease.

Damas reports that the metering system is about 99.9 percent operational. The Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system consists of a meter and transmitting device that allows the city to read meters by radio transmission rather than traditional drive-by collection of meter data. For various reasons the system can fail, such as when a radio "goes to sleep" or needs to be reset when the unit creates alarms for leaks.

Damas explained that when January bills go out around Jan. 10, the metered rates will appear and be due.

State lawmakers are forcing all California cities to go to water meters by 2025 because metering generally results in conservation and a 20 to 25 percent saving. The state calls for a minimum of a two-phase plan by dividing all houses into two categories:

City officials have spent $4.3 million to switchover to metered water.

To help homeowners save on water and their bills, the city will begin offering a rebate program for the purchase of water saving devices such as low-flush toilets and washing machines.

More information on metering may be obtained by calling the city Water Division at 538-5797.