Welcome to summer in the Hill Country! As we write this in mid-August, daily temperatures are plus or minus 100 degrees and rain drops are few and infrequent. We ended July about two inches below normal rainfall, and signs are now that even with the near 3 inch rain we had in early August that we are not through with a hot dry summer. Hopefully, but the time you read this in mid-September, it will have started to cool a bit. Our lakes continue to remain in good shape so far, but our conservation efforts become more critical the longer the hot, dry spell continues.
We are operating under the Stage 2 Watering Schedule, which is in effect from May 1-Sept 30. Stage 2 requires all residential and business customers to water no more than twice per week. We have proven through the serious droughts of the past few years that lawns and vegetation can thrive under the twice per week plan. It is critical that we all work together to preserve our precious water resources. As a reminder, here is the Stage 2 schedule:
Resident addresses ending in odd numbers: Wednesday and Saturday
Resident addressed ending in even numbers: Thursday and Sunday
Commercial customers: Tuesday and Friday
NO WATERING IS ALLOWED FROM 10AM-7PM
Use of a handheld hose for watering is allowed on any day. Special variances may be applied for in the case of new sod and/or new plants.
We ask the public to help us ensure that everyone is complying with these important conservation efforts. There are times when automatic sprinkler systems malfunction due to power outages or technical glitches. Sometimes homeowners may not be aware that their systems are running off schedule. If our customers and taxpayers will notify us when off-cycle watering is observed, we can work with the customers to get it corrected before too much water is wasted. Thanks to all for helping with this important conservation effort.
Since the mandatory Stage 2 watering schedules come to an end on September 30, we would hope that the majority of our citizens would continue to practice conservation. Staying on the Stage 2 schedule is a great way to continue saving water resources even after it ceases to be mandatory.
Our new billing system has been operational now since February 27, and we consider it to be a huge success. We have had many favorable comments from the customer base about the ease of use of the new Payment Portal Website and the clear, concise billing statements our customers now receive.
One big fear of introducing a new billing system is that an organization may lose many of the automatic credit card paying customers. Because of encryption, we were not able to automatically transfer credit card numbers to the new system, so every one of these had to be re-entered manually after contacting the customer. Not only were we able to keep the automatic credit card customers we had prior to the conversion, we grew the number of customers using this method by 10% to a total of 1,657!
Our customers that pay automatically by check or savings account has also grown by 12% since the conversion. We now have 681 of our customers that use Auto Pay through their checking or savings account. This method is actually preferred to credit cards, because customers don’t have to contact us with a new expiration date on their credit cards. Bank/Savings account customers only have to notify us if they change banks or accounts numbers. So, between automatic payments by credit card or bank/savings accounts, 56% now pay automatically each billing cycle!
Another feature we have grown substantially since the conversion is our Paperless Statement option. With the new system, we have the ability to send billing statements via email. The statements are attached to the email, so our customers don’t even have to sign in to their account to see their statement. Since the conversion, we have increased the number of customers using Paperless billing by 195%, and 42% of our customers now use Paperless!
All of these features help us to reduce cost and pass the savings along to our customers and taxpayers. We plan to continue our trend of reducing Water, Wastewater, and Tax Rates by encouraging our customers to sign up for these services that save time and money.
A big thank you to all of our customers for the tremendous cooperation we have had in adjusting to the new system. Kudos are also warranted to our Office Staff, who worked many hours to make the conversion successful while operating two systems during the conversion.
Other News From the General Manager-Earl Foster
We have had construction at two of our facilities. We are connecting our West reuse water system to our east side. We will be able to supply water to our reuse customers from both plants. By connecting the two systems we are able to firm up our supply for the reuse system. The contractor should be complete by the end of August.
Our Potable water usage has been around 3.5 million gallons a day on average for the months of July and August. Everyone needs to consider checking out their irrigation system to make sure it is watering on the correct days and for the right amount of time for each zone, no more than ½ inch per zone. Since the meters we use have the ability to save information we can profile your meter to see your hourly usage. Please call us and schedule a profile if your usage seems higher than normal.
On another note we are in the process of budgeting for fiscal year 2018. By the time you read this in September, our budget will be approved and in place. As of this writing (before the Board has approved the budget), we are thinking a very minimal increase of .79% over last year’s budget is very close to where the final numbers will end up. If you have any questions please call or email me.
Thank you again for your efforts in conserving our water, and for making LMUD a leader in quality and customer satisfaction.