Golden State Water Company is proud to provide reliable, quality water service to communities throughout California. As a regulated utility, we are held to the highest standards of accountability, and we believe it’s important to educate our customers to fully understand their water bills.
We encourage customers to review the information and resources on this page. Customers who have additional questions about their water bills or other regulatory matters are asked to contact our 24-hour Customer Service Center by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 800.999.4033 (TTY: 877.933.9533).
A tariff schedule book (tariff) is a pricing schedule or rate plan that regulated utilities like Golden State Water offer to its customers. Along with the pricing plan, there may be certain rules for each tariff a regulated utility offers. Each regulated water utility in California has its own tariffs, which outline approved service areas, rates and conditions of service, and defines the utility’s responsibilities and authorities, among other things. Tariffs, as well as any changes to existing rules, are subject to approval by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). To view the current tariff sheets for your community, please select your community and click on the Rates tab.
Learn How to Read Your Tariff Sheet
Tariff Sheet Key
1. Quantity Rates: The quantity rate is the amount customers are charged based on the amount of water they use in a billing period. This rate is approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) based on usage forecasts and may vary by service area. The quantity rate is listed on the tariff sheet in cubic feet (cu.ft.) and listed on the bill per hundred cubic feet (CcF). One cu.ft. is equivalent to 7.48 gallons, and one CcF is equivalent to 748 gallons. To convert cu.ft to CcF, simply divide the number of cu.ft. by 100.
Golden State Water has tiered rates in multiple service areas to encourage responsible water use. The tiers may vary by service area and are established based on average usage for that customer base. To calculate the amount of CcFs that define each tier, use the standard equation and input the numbers provided for quantity rates on the given tariff sheet.
Example using the above tariff sheet:
Tier 1: 1,500 cu. ft. / 100 = 15 CcF
Thus, the first 15 CcF of water used is billed at the Tier 1 quantity rate.
Tier 2: 1,200 cu. ft. / 100 = 12 CcF
Thus, the next 12 CcF of water used is billed at the Tier 2 quantity rate.
(For a customer using 17 CcF of water, the first 15 CcF is billed at the Tier 1 quantity rate, and 2 CcF is billed at the Tier 2 quantity rate)
Tier 3: 2,700 cu. ft. / 100 = 27 CcF
Thus, any water usage over 27 CcF is billed at the Tier 3 quantity rate.
(For a customer using 29 CcF of water, the first 15 CcF is billed at the Tier 1 quantity rate, 12 CcF is billed at the Tier 2 quantity rate, and 2 CcF is billed at the Tier 3 quantity rate )
Rate Tiers for Bimonthly Customers
The tier quantity rates listed on the tariff are based on a monthly bill cycle. To determine the water allowance in each tier for a bimonthly bill cycle, multiply the number of CcF in each tier by two.
Example using the above tariff sheet:
Tier 1: 15 CcF x 2 = 30 CcF
Thus, the first 30 CcF of water used is billed at the Tier 1 quantity rate for bimonthly customers.
Tier 2: 12 CcF x 2 = 24 CcF
Thus, the next 24 CcF of water used is billed at the Tier 2 quantity rate for bimonthly customers.
Tier 3: 27 CcF x 2 = 54 CcF
Thus, any water usage over 54 CcF is billed at the Tier 3 quantity rate for bimonthly customers.
2. Service Charge: The service charge is a monthly (or bimonthly) charge applied to all customers regardless of how much water is used. The service charge may vary by service area and is approved by the CPUC to ensure water utilities can recover a portion of the fixed costs associated with operating, maintaining and improving the water system. The service charge listed on the tariff sheet is for a monthly billing cycle. To determine a bimonthly service charge, simply multiply the service charge by two.
Example using the above tariff sheet:
The monthly service charge for a 5/8 x 3/4-inch meter is $17.04 per month. For a bimonthly account, the service charge for one bill period is $34.08 ($17.04 x 2).
Special conditions for tariffs may include temporary surcharges or surcredits that have been approved by the CPUC. Golden State Water has developed a resource that provides detailed information on all surcharges and surcredits that may be applicable to your water bill. Please click here to link to our Surcharges & Surcredits Guide.
As a regulated utility, Golden State Water’s rates are determined by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The rates reflect the full cost to provide water service, maintain the infrastructure and make needed system improvements.
Golden State Water is subject to state and federal requirements that guarantee the highest levels of accountability and transparency. Additionally, the CPUC provides ongoing oversight and audits of finances, operations and water quality initiatives.
General Rate Case
A General Rate Case (GRC) is a regulatory proceeding conducted by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to determine rates for regulated utilities. Every three years, the CPUC conducts an open and transparent review of Golden State Water’s rate proposal to ensure customers receive a fair rate for reliable, safe water service.
The GRC process is very thorough and generally lasts 18 months with oversight from the Office of Ratepayer Advocates, a division of the CPUC that scrutinizes the filing on behalf of customers. The utility’s customers have an opportunity to participate in the GRC process by attending Public Participation Hearings and/or testifying in a public proceeding before an Administrative Law Judge.
To learn more about the GRC for 2022-24, please click here.
WRAM/MCBA Balancing Accounts
During the General Rate Case (GRC) process, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) forecasts water usage in order to calculate rates that ensure revenue recovered from rates balances with expenses to operate, maintain and improve the water system. A large portion of these costs are fixed, meaning that they don’t change as usage changes. Companywide, fixed costs average 76 percent of Golden State Water’s utility expenses.
When water usage does not match the forecasted level and the revenue collected either exceeds or falls short of the CPUC-authorized amount, the Water Revenue Adjustment Mechanism (WRAM) and Modified Cost Balancing Account (MCBA) are used to achieve the financial balance. These tools ensure under-collected revenue is recovered with a temporary surcharge, and revenue that exceeds the authorized amount is returned to customers in the form of a temporary surcredit.
The CPUC model prohibits regulated utilities from keeping reserves or permanently changing rates when revenue fails to cover operating expenses during periods of reduced usage. Rather, the WRAM and MCBA ensure the revenue collected matches the amount authorized by the CPUC to continue providing reliable, quality water service—not a penny more, not a penny less.
The WRAM surcharge is offset by the MCBA, which represents savings in purchased water and energy costs that can result from reduced usage levels.
This process provides transparency and accountability, but can also present challenges during times of drought and reduced water usage.
Given the recent drought and unprecedented statewide conservation requirements, water utilities in every community must make adjustments to account for revenue shortfalls resulting from reduced usage. This is a challenge for all water providers, regulated and municipal.
Golden State Water has developed a resource that provides detailed information on all surcharges and surcredits that are factored into water bills. Surcharges & Surcredit Guide
Staged Mandatory Water Conservation & Rationing (Schedule 14.1)
In response to local water supply conditions, Staged Mandatory Water Conservation & Rationing (Schedule 14.1) is in place for the Cypress Ridge, Edna Road and Nipomo water systems.
The Staged Mandatory Water Conservation & Rationing (Schedule 14.1) filings outline restrictions, water allocations, enforcement measures and surcharges designed to achieve reductions due to water supply shortages or to achieve identified water usage goals established by an authorized government agency or official.