Frequently Asked Questions - Water Rates

Are there things I could do to offset the water rate adjustment?  

The City of Tustin offers several programs to help customers save money by reducing their personal water use and increasing water use efficiency.  

  • With more than 60 percent of water being used outdoors, taking action to adjust outdoor water use during cooler months, when plants need less water to stay healthy, will save on costs.  
  • To cut down on water costs, customers can install drought-tolerant landscaping as part of the turf rebate program.  
  • Customers can install smart irrigation in their yards and a weather-based irrigation controller to make sure water is used as efficiently as possible while staying within their specific water budget. 
  • Customers can sign up for a free efficiency evaluation with site-specific efficiency assessments.  
  • Customers can apply for a residential rebate by visiting the Municipal Water District of Orange County website.  

How are water rates determined?  

Water rates are developed through a comprehensive cost-of-service study that examines the water rates to the actual cost of providing water service. To determine the appropriate rate structure for Tustin, the City’s water rate consultant, IB Consultants, reviewed the current rate structure and consumption data along with ongoing operational, maintenance, capital, and bond obligations to determine the new rate structure approach.  

Bimonthly fixed charges are charged at a flat rate based on the size of the meter. All customers are required to pay a fixed meter fee and a commodity/variable rate based on water consumption. In addition, customers who have multiple dwellings are charged per additional dwelling unit (DU). 

When was the last rate increase?  

Following a comprehensive outreach process guided by Proposition 218, the Tustin City Council adopted new water rates for all customers in January 2020, which went into effect in February 2020. This process resulted in a number of changes related to customer billing, including moving to a uniform rate system.

How is my water payment used?

Since general fund tax dollars are not used to pay for the City’s water system, all proceeds from water bills go directly to fund the water delivery operation. This includes maintaining various critical water infrastructure like water mainline replacements and maintenance; well replacements and maintenance; treatment plant operations and maintenance; hydrant maintenance; backflow compliance; and meter maintenance. The City of Tustin’s water distribution system consists of 172 miles of water mains, six reservoirs, 14 active wells, and 1,945 fire hydrants.

Where your dollar goes

What is Proposition (Prop) 218?  

Prop 218, passed by voters in California in 1996, specifies the required process for public participation in water rate setting that water agencies like Tustin must follow. Prop 218 requires that a public hearing take place when the City proposes to increase water service rates or establish new rates. The law’s intent is to ensure that rates and fees are reasonable and proportional to the cost of providing service.

What can I do if I can’t pay my bill? 

The City is committed to helping customers who are struggling economically as a result of the water rate adjustment. The City can work with customers to arrange payment plans if needed. Please call (714) 573-3075 if you would like to discuss a payment plan for your bill. 

What resources are available for financial aid?  

We are committed to providing our customers with resources for support and financial aid: 

Apply for the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP): This program is federally funded and offers one-time support to help low-income households pay their residential sewer and water bills to keep their water on. Customers are eligible if their total household gross income is at or below 60% of the State Median Income, or if a household member is a current recipient of CalFresh, CalWORKs, or the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). To apply, please visit the LIHEAP website or call (916) 576-7109.

Establish a Payment Plan: The City can work with customers to arrange payment plans if needed. Please call (714) 573-3075 if you would like to discuss a payment plan for your bill.

Where can I get more information about Water Rates?  

More information about Tustin’s water rates is available on the City’s website.