Missing water bill information (March 12, 2017)

Thanks to Steve Hunt for providing us a look at his water bills in Hesperia and Apple Valley (The water world we live in, Daily Press, March 12, 2017). I’d like to correct one little error and fill in some missing information.

First, the error. Mr. Hunt states that CCF stands for cubic feet of water. Actually, it stands for 100 cubic feet of water. It even states on his bill that 1 unit = 100 cubic feet (CCF) or water. 1 CCF = 748 gallons. Now even though the discrepancy is two orders of magnitude, it doesn’t alter much in terms of what Mr. Hunt writes, given the context.

The omission, however, is quite a bit different. In Hesperia, developers have to pay to put in water service to the house, and then give that connection to the city. Therefore, part of the price of a home in Hesperia includes the cost of installing the water service. In Apple Valley, Liberty Utilities charges a small up-front deposit for installing water service, and then charges bi-monthly to recoup the installation expense. (The deposit is refunded after the first year of service.)

So, if it cost the developer $10,000 to install water service in Hesperia, then Mr. Hunt was paying almost $48 per month on his mortgage for his water service at 4% interest.

Connection charge $10,000
Interest rate 4.00%
Mortgage term 30 years
Monthly payment $47.74
Total number of payments 360
Total amount of payments $17,186.95
Interest cost $7,186.95

That works out to around $95 per bi-monthly billing cycle, so in reality he was paying $148.14 for his water bill in Hesperia (not counting any Hesperia taxes that might also apply toward water delivery, or higher property taxes due to the higher property valuation), compared to his $137.74 bi-monthly water bill in Apple Valley for similar water usage.

Item Hesperia Apple Valley
Bill amount $52.66 $137.74
Connection charges $95.48 (included)
Local taxes ? (included)
Local bonds ? (included)
Property taxes ? (included)
Total cost for water service $148.14 (+?) $137.74

The bills look different, but they are comparable once you take everything into account.

The real difference is that publicly-owned water system decisions are made by politicians, not by water experts, as they are in Apple Valley.

Greg Raven is Co-Chair of Apple Valley Citizens for Government Accountability, and is concerned about quality of life issues.

Published: Daily Press, March 20, 2017

P.S. This analysis does not include other benefits offered by Liberty Utilities that often are not offered by municipal water systems:

  • If you have a concern about your meter, Liberty does not charge to pull and test it, but the cities do charge.
  • If you suspect you might have hidden water leaks, Liberty will perform a free water audit.
  • Liberty Utilities will assist with adjusting and setting your sprinkler system.

In some cases, government workers are actually prohibited from doing this type of work on private property for liability and other reasons.