San Diego water rates to rise by 20%

September 19, 2023 by No Comments

San Diego city officials have announced a need for a higher increase in water rates than previously stated, with the new proposed increase set at 19.8 percent, as opposed to the previously mentioned 17.6 percent. However, it’s worth noting that a smaller portion of this increase will impact typical single-family homeowners.

During a recent presentation to the City Council, water officials explained that the main driver behind this proposed rate increase is the rising cost of imported water, which accounts for approximately 85 to 90 percent of the city’s water supply.

The adjustment to lessen the burden on single-family homeowners in this rate hike proposal stems from an analysis conducted by a consultant last winter. The analysis concluded that the initial distribution of costs did not appropriately allocate enough to businesses and complexes like condominiums and apartments.

If the updated proposal is approved by the council as scheduled on September 19, the monthly rate for an average single-family homeowner will rise to $93.55, compared to the previous rate of $81.07. However, city officials have not provided estimates of the impact on monthly bills for businesses and residents in apartments and condominiums.

These rate increases are deemed necessary to fund various initiatives, including improvements to customer service, maintenance of the extensive network of over 3,300 miles of aging pipes, and capital projects like the ongoing construction of the city’s Pure Water sewage recycling system.

City officials emphasize that the annual revenue generated by the city’s water system needs to increase from $566 million to over $600 million to cover the escalating expenses. The proposed increases will be implemented in two phases: a 10.2 percent increase starting on December 1, followed by an 8.75 percent increase in January 2025. When compounded, these two increases amount to a total of 19.8 percent.

The 10.2 percent increase consists of a 6.6 percent rise for the city’s water system and a pass-through of an expected 3.6 percent increase in the charges imposed by the San Diego County Water Authority for imported water next year. Meanwhile, the 8.75 percent increase includes a 4.3 percent hike for the city’s water system and an anticipated 4.4 percent pass-through increase from the water authority in 2025.

These rate adjustments will position San Diego somewhere in the middle when compared to other local agencies’ water charges. It will be notably higher than the $60 per month charged by Lakeside but considerably lower than the nearly $180 charged by Del Mar. The county average for water bills is approximately $90 per month.

These rate hikes represent the first increase since 2015, although the city has already passed on some of the increased costs for imported water to its customers in the intervening years.

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