City of San Diego votes to raise water rates

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – 5:33 p.m. – The San Diego City Council voted to raise water rates, starting in January of 2016. 

5:27 p.m. – The San Diego City Council met Tuesday to decide whether water rates should go up.

On the table, a proposal to raise the prices which consumers pay for recycled and potable water.

Lots of figures being bandied about, but it boils down to this: should the city raise water rates to pay for the rising cost of imported water? And for infrastructure improvements? And what is the best way to make those increases equitable?

The council listened to a lengthy presentation by the public utilities department, which wants to raise rates by 9.8 percent starting in January, with an additional 6.9 percent next July.

Related LinkSan Diego County water consumption drops 19 percent

The department said the cost of purchasing imported water from the San Diego County Water Department and the wholesale supplier, the Metropolitan Water District, has doubled over the past decade.

Looking toward the future, city staff argued that the public utilities department would be faced with a huge deficit without a rate increase and that would effectively put an end to the city’s pure water program.

That’s the program that will treat recycled water and make it drinkable. This will be a huge source of water for the city in the near future.

The public utilities director said the revenue from a rate hike would also go towards repairing the city and replacing the aging water infrastructure.

Critics of the rate hike, many from the South Bay, say the proposed hikes are making consumers in places like San Ysidro pay for water they won’t use because the Otay Water District in their service area already has its own recycled water program.

They say these new rate hikes would be used to subsidize the recycled water program for people living in the northern part of the city.

At this hour, the council has not taken a vote. A residential customer whose monthly bill is about $36 would see it rise to just over $39.

A number of civic groups are backing the water hike, including the regional chamber of commerce and the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.

Categories: KUSI