Rates & Fees

The District has established rates and charges necessary to maintain an adequate and reliable suply of high quality water. District rates and fees are developed using careful engineering and financial analysis of the cost of service. Your cost of water is based on how much water is actually used. All charges reflect a fairness principle that all customers pay for the cost of providing safe and reliable water services -- no more and no less.

Your Bill is Made up of Three Charges

  1. Meter Charge. This is a fixed charge based on your meter size.
  2. Water Rate. This is the cost per unit volume and changes based on the volume of water used.
  3. Water Shortage Emergency Surcharge. An additional, temporary charge per unit (HCF) of water consumed.

More detail about these charges can be found below.

1) Meter Charge

The meter charge is a fixed charge based on the size of the water meter.

2) Water Rate

The District completed a 5-Year Financial Plan and a Cost of Service study, and in August 2013 adopted a five-year schedule of necessary rate increases. The rate study assumed normal (non-drought) conditions and did not include additional expenditures related to the water shortage emergency. (Note: A new 5-Year Plan and rate study are currently underway as of 2019.)

3) Water Shortage Emergency Surcharge

The exceptional drought that began in 2011 caused Montecito Water District to incur extraordinary costs and lead to the adoption of a water shortage emergency ordinance. This type of action can be necessary to ensure water supply availability to protect the public health and safety of our community.

The Water Shortage Emergency Surcharge is a temporary measure to fund drought-related expenses such as the purchase of supplemental water. It is added to the water usage rates and applies to all water consumption.

Payment Programs & Billing Policies


Direct Payment Program Terms and Conditions

Direct Payment is a FREE service that allows you to have your recurring water bill paid automatically by credit card or from your checking or savings account. No checks, no postage, no late payments, and no hassles. Direct Payment uses the same network as direct deposit.

The system is safe and reliable. Sign up today here:  montecitowater.com/paybill

If a customer elects to participate in the Direct Payment Program, the amount of the water bill will be automatically debited from the customer's checking or savings account on the 20th of the month or on the following business day.

If a customer should have any questions concerning the charge shown on his/her bill and does not want the amount of the bill deducted from the account, the customer must contact the District and initiate a request within ten days after the billing date. Any such request must be in writing. A copy of the written request should be retained for the customer's records.

If there are insufficient funds in the customer's account to cover the direct payment, he/she will be assessed a $25.00 service charge. The District will then require that the current payment amount be covered in cash, cashier's check or money order. After two such occurrences of insufficient funds, a customer may no longer be eligible for the Direct Payment Program.

Participation in the program may be canceled at any time by giving the District 30 days written notice. A copy of the cancellation request should be retained as a personal record.

Past Due Notice & Turn Off Policy

The District is on a monthly billing cycle and sends out bills for each prior month's service. Payment is due upon receipt of the water bill, and is delinquent if not paid by the due date printed on the bill. If payment is not received, a past due message appears on the next water bill. A late charge will be assessed. There is no grace period.

Approximately one week after mailing of the next water bill, the District sends a past due notice. Approximately ten days after the past due notice, the District posts a turn-off warning on the door of the property. (There will be an administrative charge of $10.00 for door tagging.) With this warning, the customer is requested to pay in full all amounts due the District.

Forty-eight hours later, the District will telephone the account holder to try to notify them of the pending water service turn off. The District will then turn off the meters to the accounts that are still not paid. The District charges an administrative fee of $40.00 to turn off a meter for non payment, and $40.00 to turn on a meter that has been turned off for non-payment.

Late Charges

A late charge is included on the past due amount of the monthly bill. The late charge will amount to 6% of the first month's past due bill, followed by an additional 1.5% fee for each month thereafter. It covers the District's actual costs of financing late payments from delinquent customers.

Note for New Business Customers

The water bill for a business is directly related to the meter's water budget and entitlement level. Exceeding the water budget will result in water billed at higher tier rates. Businesses—especially those that use large amounts of water such as restaurants, coffee shops, laundromats, etc.—should ensure the meter’s existing water budget/entitlement is adequate for the intended end use. Please contact the District’s Engineering Department at 805-969-2271 for more information and to determine if the existing entitlement is adequate for the intended end use for the site.

The Water Availability Charge (WAC)

Since 1996, the Water Availability Charge has been a key source of funding for Capital Projects.  For properties within the District's service area, this annual assessment of $30 per acre (or per parcel if less than an acre) is collected along with property taxes and is used exclusively to fund water system improvements such as upgrading distribution services, replacing aging infrastructure, and increasing reliability and the ability to meet fire flows. The WAC is reviewed in Public Hearing and renewed by vote of the Board of Directors annually. Review typically occurs during the July Board meeting and current year assessment figures are available at that time.