What is The Water SMART Allocation Program?
Water allocations are a scientific method of calculating the water use needs at a residence and are implemented to promote greater water use efficiency. Water SMART allocations are provided to all individually metered residential homes and are based on the specific indoor and outdoor water needs of each individual residence.
How Is My Outdoor Water Allocation Calculated?
Outdoor allocations vary by landscaped area, daily weather conditions in the Santa Clarita Valley, and the number of days in a billing cycle. Based on weather data and evapotranspiration (ET) factors (see What is the formula for daily outdoor water allocations? and What is evapotranspiration? ), calculations are made to determine how much water is needed for a healthy lawn and landscape. Calculations assume landscapes at residential homes consist mostly of turf grass, generally the highest water using landscape type, for the first 2,500 square feet. As landscaped areas increase, the water-use factor goes down to a level for shrubs and drought-tolerant plants. For example, if your total landscaped area is 3,500 square feet, the first 2,500 square feet will be rated at the highest-water-using factor (turf) and the remaining 1,000 square feet will be rated for less-thirsty plants (shrubs). Valencia Water Company used aerial imaging to determine actual landscaped areas for every residential customer with a single meter. PLEASE NOTE: The introductory period for the Water SMART program in 2010 used “assigned” landscaped areas based on neighborhood averaging to calculate allocations. Some customers may notice changes in their allocations because we have switched to the more precise measuring system.
How Is My Indoor Water Allocation Calculated?
Indoor water use is usually much smaller when compared to outdoor water use. For individually metered family residences, indoor water usage typically accounts for less than 1/3 of a customer’s total usage. Indoor allocations are fixed at 6,500 gallons for a 30 day month based on national research conducted by the American Water Works Association Research Foundation (AWWARF) that shows what an average household of four living in a residential home would need if they used water efficiently and had the appropriate water-efficient fixtures. For example, in a home with a 2.5-gallons-per-minute showerhead (efficient), a shower under 8 minutes is considered being Water SMART. Your indoor allocation is calculated based on the number of days in a billing period. So if your billing period is 30 days long the allocation is 6,500 gallons, if it’s 28 days it will be slightly less than 6,500, if 33 days it would be slightly more. Variances are available upon request for special needs.
Why Were Four People In A Household Used?
Many water allocation programs in the country are implemented with flat amounts for indoor allocations, based on studies (such as by AWWARF) that show what a typical family residence would use. It is generally cost prohibitive to survey every residence to determine present-time household size and specific indoor fixtures, so an average household size is used. The Valencia Water Company’s analysis of homes in its service area showed an average of slightly more than 3 people per household. Therefore, 4 people per household were used to represent the average household size. Of course, residents are always encouraged to be as efficient as possible, regardless of how many reside in the house.
How Do I Know My Water Allocation?
Water allocations will be provided to customers on their monthly bill and our website. Customers can log onto their secure accounts through our Web Connect service, see current and past monthly allocations, how their allocations are split between indoor and outdoor use, and their actual water use compared to the allocation. If a customer finds that their water use is in the Inefficient or higher ranges, there are many tools offered by Valencia Water Company to help them become more efficient. See a sample of this information below and on the conservation page of this website.
Will Water Allocations Vary?
Water allocations generally go up or down depending on the time of year and weather conditions. Valencia Water Company receives actual weather data for the region on a daily basis, so allocations may vary with fluctuating weather patterns. Generally, more water is allocated to homes during the summer months when landscapes need the water the most and less in the winter. Indoor allocations will vary by the length of the billing period, based on 6,500 gallons for a 30-day period.
Why Do I Get My Water Allocation After The Month Is Over?
Your water allocation will be calculated using actual ET data. If the allocation was to be given in advance, the allocation would have to be based on historic water usage and predictive weather data. This program is purposely designed to create shifts in usage based on actual, present weather patterns.
Why Do We Need Water Allocations?
We live in a semi-arid area, so conservation is important to ensure we have long-term supplies for future generations. Valencia Water Company customers have been doing a good job at saving water. An allocation-based tiered rate system provides customers with greater detail about their individual water use, enabling them to better monitor their use and help them identify where they can be even more efficient. Being water efficient is good for California whether we’re in a drought or not. The water we save today will be there when we really need it.
Valencia Water Company’s allocation and tiered rate program is also in response to recent state law requiring per-capita water use in the state be reduced by 20 percent by 2020. Valencia Water Company believes its Water SMART program is an effective and fair approach to meeting these objectives.
Are Water Allocations New?
Water allocation programs have been around for more than 20 years and increasingly are being implemented in communities throughout California and the Western United States. In communities using allocations, many customers have become more efficient without sacrificing their lifestyle. On average, customers provided additional information about their water use become 20 percent more efficient.
What Are The Advantages Of A Water Allocation?
For customers, they can see more precise information about their water use and how much of their water should be used indoors and out. Such helpful information allows customers to better monitor their water use and more easily identify where they can be more efficient with this most precious resource. In the Santa Clarita Valley, typically 2/3 of the water delivered to homes is used outdoors, primarily for irrigating landscapes. In most cases, homeowners over-water their landscapes. The allocation program provides more precise calculations for landscape irrigation.
For Valencia Water Company, allocation programs can help reduce water demands and, thus, minimize purchases of expensive imported water from Northern California. Additionally, minimizing overall water demands on the system extends the budget for repairs and maintenance of Valencia Water Company’s infrastructure system. Collectively, these things will help keep water.
Are There Other Ways To Encourage People not To Waste Water?
Water allocations and tiered rates are based on need and, thus, a fairer method than, say, asking everyone to conserve 10 percent of their historic water use. The “reduce historic use” methodology actually penalizes customers with efficient water use practices. Water purveyors who have implemented water allocation programs such as ours have seen significant decreases in water use, particularly because these programs help change the behaviors of people who were constantly wasting water.
Will Everyone Have A Water Allocation?
The Water SMART allocation program currently applies to individually metered residences and dedicated irrigation metered customers with plans to expand to other customer categories. Individually metered residences are the largest category of Valencia Water Company’s customers.
What Are The Allocation Ranges?
The Water SMART allocation program will show customers their monthly allocation, along with five descriptions of their use (from low to high) within this allocation. These ranges are:
Super Efficient: Indoor Allocation
Efficient: Outdoor Allocation
(Tier 1 + Tier 2 = 100% of total allocation)
Inefficient: 101% – 150% of allocation
Excessive: 151% – 200% of allocation
Wasteful: 200% + of allocation
If I Am Above My Allocation, How Do I Reach The Efficient Level?
In most cases, water customers who exceed their base (efficient level) allocation can take a few simple steps to be more efficient and remain within their baseline allocation. Already, our website provides a variety of tools to help customers – from easy-to-use water conservation tips, to home water surveys , to rebates for installing high-efficiency toilets , and more. For information, visit the Water Conservation area or call a customer service representative at (661) 294-0828.
Is It Possible To Stay Within Just The Tier One Level?
Yes. Saving water can be simple and achieved without sacrificing lifestyle. Customers who monitor their outdoor water use and take other steps to be more efficient can reach the Super Efficient level. Other steps, such as reducing the amount of turf and converting to more drought-tolerant landscapes, may be necessary, too.
What Are Tiered Rates?
Valencia Water Company implemented a tiered rate structure, effective February 1, 2011.
Under the tiered rate system, customers who remain within their efficient allocation will pay the standard rate. Customers who use the smallest amount of the allocation will pay the lowest rate for reaching the “super efficient” allocation level. Customers who exceed their efficient allocation will pay higher rates. The tiered rate system provides customers with economic price signals to discourage wasteful water use. See the Rates page for more information.
What If I Need More Water?
WHAT IF I NEED MORE WATER? (VARIANCE PROCESS)
Variances, which increase the water allocation, can be reviewed and granted on a case-by-case basis. Variances can be granted for more than 4 people living in a home or for landscape modifications not captured by our aerial imaging. There are also other unique situations where variances can be granted, such as for special medical needs or fire protection. Should you need an allocation greater than the standard amount for your home, go to Variance Request Process, or call our customer service department at (661) 294-0828.
Are All Landscapes Treated The Same?
The “minimum” landscaped area is 500 square feet. This means that some residential customers will receive a water allocation based on the minimum, although their landscape may be smaller.
What Is The Formula For Daily Water Allocations (WA)?
The outdoor calculation formula looks like this:
WA = (ETo x Kc1 x LA1 x .623) / IE + (ETo x Kc2 x LA2 x .623) / IE
(The key is below)
- WA = Water Needed for Irrigation (Gallons/Day)
- ET0 = Evapotranspiration Factor (Inches/Day)
- Kc1 = Crop Coefficient for Plant Type=.7 (assumes all turf grass)
- Kc2 = Crop Coefficient for Plant Type=.5 (shrubs)
- LA1 = The first 2,500 square feet of actual Landscaped Area
- LA2 = Any incremental increase in actual Landscaped Area that exceeds 2,500 square feet
- 0.623 = Conversion Factor (Gallons / Sq. ft.)
- IE = Irrigation Efficiency= .71
The WA for each day in a billing period, which varies between 28-33 days, is accumulated to give the outdoor water allocation for the entire period.
What Is Evapotranspiration?
The amount of water a customer should apply on a landscape varies by weather conditions and time of year. If it hasn’t rained during the hotter, longer days of summer, a landscape can dry up quicker and, therefore, a customer needs more water to keep a landscape healthy. Usually starting in September, as days grow shorter, water stays in a soil longer and a customer does not need to water as much. Evapotranspiration (ET) is the loss of water in the atmosphere by the combined process of evaporation (from soil and plant surfaces) and transpiration (from plant tissues).
Where Do You Get The Evapotranspiration Information?
This information is downloaded daily from the California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS), a program of the Office of Water Use Efficiency, California Department of Water Resources. CIMIS weather stations, (there are more than 120 automated weather stations in California), collect weather data on a minute-by-minute basis, calculate hourly and daily values and store them in dataloggers. Valencia Water Company obtains its evapotranspiration information from the CIMIS weather station located at the Castaic Lake Water Agency main office in Santa Clarita. For more information on how CIMIS stations collect and process data, go to: www.cimis.water.ca.gov.