Check your own bill

I recently assigned myself a challenge; review my Golden State water bill and see if I can make sense of all of the various charges. In other words, see if I can come up with the same bill total as Golden State.

 First off there’s “Service Charge.” Well, that’s pretty self-explanatory.

 Then, the water usage by tier. So, I multiplied my usages by the listed tier rates. Okay, that checks out.

 And now it’s on to that ever-mysterious grouping “Surcharges, Fees & Credits,” which includes such well-known line items as “CARW,” “WRAM,” “MCBA,” and the ever-ubiquitous-and-not-to-be-overlooked “Other.”

 Fortunately(?), on their website, Golden State furnishes a guide to help us called “Surcharges and Surcredits” (yes, you read that correctly)—all 14 pages of it. So, I launched into it, confident that I could unscramble this whole mish-mash.

 Alright, “CARW,” usage times the rate. That’s okay.

 “WRAM/MCBA?” Yes, MCBA, the old Modified Cost Balancing Account, how could I forget? The calculation for WRAM checks out, but I’m still $5.08 short of the total for this line, and unable to find any help in the 14 pages online.

 And, last but not least, $5.18 in “Other surcharges/credits.” For this item as well, I found no aid or guidance in the 14 pages online.

 So, in total, that's $10.26 that I can’t explain or verify, which leaves me with the thought that if Golden State is going to screw us, the least they could do is explain the details—for the sake of transparency, don’t you know. Or, then again, perhaps they just don’t want to, so I can’t find mistakes or figure out what is keeping my water bill is so high.

 Douglas Lyon