Damage to many water meters and service lines during the Tea Fire has caused the Montecito Water District to shut off service and lock-off meters for some customers until repairs can be made. District representatives said this helps to avoid the needless waste of water loss. In response, the Montecito Water Board approved a Tea Fire disaster relief program on November 18 to aid customers affected by meter damage. Those who lost their homes have the option of suspending water service – with a waiver of all fees – until they begin rebuilding. This option will be available until December 1, 2010. Also, because many people used district water to defend their homes from the fire, the board raised the “tier one” block in the pricing rate structure from 25 hundred cubic feet (HCF) to 35 HCF for the month of November, allowing an additional 7,480 gallons at the base rate.
Customers affected by the fire are encouraged to contact the District at (805) 969-2271 for more information about assistance they can receive regarding water service. “We’re going to send each customer a letter so they can decide how best to deal with their particular situation,” said General Manager Tom Moseby, adding that each case is different, so customers will be handled one by one.
Miraculously, none of the Montecito Water District facilities were damaged. “Three of our facilities were in the path of the fire, but even though everything around them was devastated, there weren’t even any heat marks on our buildings,” Moseby said.