After some backlash from customers on a one-size-fits-all plan, the largest water retailer in the Bay Area has changed its tune. Now, water allotment in San Jose won’t be a standard amount, but based on the number of people inside a home.
The San Jose Water Company says with a drought everyone needs to do their part, but they want to make sure everyone is getting a fair shake. That’s why Thursday night the organization held a hearing to make sure the public thinks they are on the right track.
Starting on June 15, San Jose residents should anticipate some possible changes on their water bill. The company is asking customers to cut back water usage by an additional 30 percent from 2013.
“Everybody is gonna have one number that is going to be their target, their allocation,” said San Jose Water Company spokesperson John Tang. “Should they go over that, there’s gonna be some surcharges. They’re going to have to pay.”
The San Jose Water Company’s program sets a monthly target based on a family of four since that is the average size household in its service area.
“Anything public health and safety related – health conditions, number of people in the household – those are considerations we would take on a case-to-case basis,” Tang said.
But many complained that larger families were being unfairly targeted, so the water company decided that households of more than four people can petition for more water.
“They should base the allotment on the number of people in the family and everybody should pitch in. It’s as simple as that,” San Jose resident Briana Gaetano said. “I think it only makes sense.”
Tang said appeals for more water will be based on the honor system, meaning no police counting family members.
Some worry that could create water cheats.
“You’ll have people that will be dishonest about it,” San Jose resident Jessica Sheahan said. “But I think that, for the most part, people will, because this is an issue that affects all of us with the water and the drought.”
“We really have no way of knowing how many customers are behind each meter that we have,” Tang said. “We certainly trust that our customers are being truthful when they file their appeal form.”
The public meeting was held at the Rotary Summit Center in downtown San Jose. The water company says the current proposal, if approved, will likely take effect in mid-June.