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San Diego County Water Authority proposes water rate hike, citing rising costs

Running water
Posted at 4:34 PM, May 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-26 19:36:10-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) — San Diego County Water Authority staff Thursday proposed increasing rates for its 24 member agencies by 5.2% for treated water and 3.7% for untreated water in 2023, citing inflation and increasing energy and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California costs.

"We recognize inflationary pressures are challenging for many residents and we are working collaboratively with all levels of government to identify, advocate for, and improve water affordability," said Water Authority General Manager Sandra L. Kerl. "As our rate-setting process moves forward, we will remain focused on maintaining the lowest possible rates while delivering a safe and reliable water supply during the driest period in more than 1,200 years."

The rate increases include withdrawals from the authority's Rate Stabilization Fund -- created in 1990 to help avoid rate spikes, especially those driven by reduced water sales. According to the water authoirty, it intends to reduce 2023 rate increases by $39 per acre-foot by drawing $14 million from that fund.

The rates for 2023 represent $1,579 per acre-foot for untreated water, or $56 more per acre-foot than this year's bill. Charges would be $1,929 per acre-foot for treated water, or $96 more per acre-foot than in 2022. An acre-foot is about 325,900 gallons, enough to serve the annual needs of 2.5 typical four-person households in San Diego County, the authority claims.

However, actual figures will vary by member agency, and each member agency will incorporate costs into the retail rates it charges.

Rising costs for water supplies, including increases to water treatment driven by energy costs and a 7% increase from Metropolitan Water District of Southern California in Los Angeles for untreated supplies are behind the increase, agency staff said.

The Water Authority Board is expected to vote on rates for next year at its regular meeting on June 23, following a public hearing.