Chualar, CA is a residential community about 15 miles southeast of Salinas on Highway 101 that mainly houses farm workers, many of whom speak only Spanish.
- In the Fall of 2004, California American Water (CalAm) initiated a metered rate structure to replace the old flat rates.
- According to CalAm, the new rate structure was needed to encourage water conservation on the Monterey Peninsula, where a sustainable water supply remains a challenge.
- Unfortunately, due to inadequate public outreach by the company, the Chualar community wasn't aware of the rate increase and the reasons behind it. Many of the residents saw a huge increase in their water bills.
Customers from Chualar approached the PUC to voice their concern about the high bills.
- CalAm agreed to retract the proposed rates and work with the community to set appropriate rates.
- CalAm proposed to survey the Chualar households and provide water saving devices, including shower heads and toilets, free of charge.
This Fall, CalAm joined with a seven-member Chualar committee to begin work on this project.
- The Committee will select personnel to inspect the plumbing in individual homes.
- A professional plumber will install low water use fixtures at the Committee's direction.
- On November 2nd CalAm met with the Committee and the PUC to discuss a) replacing fixtures, b) initiating a conservation program, and c) developing a fair water rate.
- A community meeting was held on November 15th to provide information to Chualar residents, including examples of low-flow devices.
Once the retrofit is complete, and data on water use are available, PUC staff and CalAm will design rates that will both provide customers with price signals about use and cover the costs to the utility.