La Cañada Flintridge water costs vary by agency

Different measurements, fees and schedules make comparing local water rates a difficult and dizzying exercise.

Think of the following chart as a Rosetta Stone for deciphering water bills that are delivered to La Cañada Flintridge residents in a variety of languages.

The four agencies that serve the city bill customers two basic ways: (1) a flat fee, or service charge, meant to cover fixed operating costs, and (2) a water rate, or commodity charge, based on the amount of water each customer uses in a given period.

Service charges correspond to water meter size (the larger a property’s meter, the more water that must be on hand to serve it) and are billed monthly or once every two months. For sake of comparison, each example below has been calculated to reflect charges over two months.

To compare water rates, however, is much more of a challenge.

Though all companies establish billing units to measure water use, billing units are defined in different ways. For example, the La Cañada Irrigation District uses a measure of 100 cubic feet (roughly 748 gallons), while the Crescenta Valley Water District defines a billing unit as 1,000 gallons.

Many water companies also use a tiered rate system that increases the price for water as usage goes up, but each of those tiered systems varies wildly in terms of the prices and ceilings set for each tier. For example, La Cañada Irrigation District customers can use up to 6,000 cubic feet (44,880 gallons) of water before their rates go up, but Crescenta Valley Water District customers start paying higher rates after only 10,000 gallons.

Further complicating matters, some companies reset tiers on a monthly basis, while others stick to a two-month schedule.

Water rate schedules in Pasadena and Glendale, however, show that La Cañada Flintridge residents pay much higher prices.

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