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Some Californians Paying More Than Others For Water Meters

RIPON (CBS13) - State law requires water meters be installed at all California homes. But some Californians are paying more for those meters than others depending on where they live.

A Ripon homeowner is paying nearly $1,000 for a water meter to be put in on his property while neighboring cities aren't charging homeowners a dime.

Homes built after 1992 already have water meters, but property owners with older homes are now being required by the city to pay for the meters in their water bills.

Some homeowners are concerned they're paying too much and too soon when the city doesn't even have a contractor.

Homeowner Stan Hixson just paid his Ripon utility bill. Since February, he's paid an extra $7.75, the surcharge fee to help pay for his new water meter and its installation.

"I don't mind paying for my water. I just don't think i should have to pay for the water meter," said Hixson.

State law requires water meters, and Ripon city hall says homeowners need to pay for them. Property owners will have to pay a range from about $250 to more than $1,000 for the installations – depending on the amount of work involved.

"So they're going to be tearing up the yard. I don't know if they have to tear out the brick," said Hixson.

Homeowners can pay for meters in a lump sum, or in Hixson's case, small amounts each month for the next 10 years.

"How can you come up with this figure without contracting it out? Where did these numbers come from?" said Hixson.

Ripon's public works department says it bases installation estimates on those used by contractors in neighboring cities like Lodi. But in different cities, customer costs vary. But why are prices so different?

In Escalon, all property owners pay a flat $199, while Riverbank and Modesto don't charge their customers.

Riverbank public works says a water sinking fund and city financing will pay for water meter installations this summer. Modesto says it's been installing meters for several years, paid for with water rate revenue.

Hixson says he hopes when his meter finally gets installed, it'll help save him money.

Ripon's engineering department says it hopes to have all of the meters installed by the fall.

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