Sacramento, CA, U.S.A. --- (METERING.COM) --- May 28, 2009 - California American Water is accelerating its Sacramento water meter retrofit conversion program with plans to install meters for its remaining 29,765 flat rate customers, ending decades of unmetered water use in the region and fostering conservation in response to the ongoing drought.

This move comes in response to an executive order by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed last summer, mandating all water utilities take aggressive, immediate action to reduce water consumption for the remainder of 2008 and prepare for potential worsening water conditions in 2009 and beyond.

“Converting flat rate customers to meters encourages residents to conserve because they are charged for the actual amount of water they use,” said Andy Soule, general manager for the company’s northern California division. “Flat rate customers are charged the same amount per month regardless of their water usage. People should pay for what they use. Metering water usage provides economic incentives to change water use habits.”

This was the logic behind AB 2572, a bill Gov. Schwarzenegger signed into law in 2004 that required meters to be installed on all residential and commercial properties by 2025. This was partly based on studies that showed metered customers used less water on average than those charged a flat rate.

California American Water, which began retrofitting customers with meters in 2003, has since outfitted more than 20,700 of its Sacramento flat rate properties – well on track to meet the 2025 goal.

However, it was decided to accelerate the program because of the continuing drought and the governor’s urgent call for utilities to take more immediate action.

California American Water has spent more than $16 million dollars on its meter retrofit program, which it began in 2003 and is slated to spend a total of $58.6 million on the project, which is expected to be completed in 2014, nine years before the legislative deadline.

So far, more than 10,000 customers in the company’s Arden and Antelope service areas have had meters installed under the retrofit program The Suburban, Rosemont, Lincoln Oaks and Parkway districts will see an additional 30,000 meters installed over the next four years.

Flat rate customers who are converted to meters get a grace period of three billing periods, in which they continue to be charged a flat rate but are able to see what their bill would have been under the metered rate. This is aimed at giving customers ample time to adjust their usage if necessary before the final conversion takes place.

California American Water offers a number of water and money saving programs for customers, including up to $150 rebates on water efficient appliances. Customers can also sign up for a Water Wise home water survey, where a company conservation specialist will go out to the residence and conduct a comprehensive water audit for free. The representative will check the property for leaks and other areas of potential water savings and provide the customer with an in-depth report on their water usage in addition to providing tips on things they can do to save water.

“We’re pulling out all the stops to make this transition as easy we can on our flat rate customers,” Soule said. “We believe that the grace period will ease the transition to metered rates by fostering a heightened awareness of actual consumption and the corresponding costs.”

California American Water, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Water, provides high quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to more than 600,000 people.