San Diego Water Rates to Rise 15 Percent


San Diego’s water rates will climb nearly 15 percent during the next two years, after the City Council voted overwhelmingly for the hike Thursday.

“No one likes water rate increases, but this increase is a prudent and necessary step,” interim Mayor Todd Gloria said before the council voted 8-1. Councilman Scott Sherman opposed the measure, which will take effect Jan. 1.

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City officials said the higher rates will ensure that San Diego has the financial reserves needed to maintain its good bond rating and cover rising wholesale water costs.

“This rate increase is actually compounded by the fact that we did not raise rates for two years,” said Vincent Mudd, a San Diego representative on the San Diego County Water Authority board.

The average increase of 15 percent won’t be felt equally.

Under a new pricing structure, single-family households with very low water use will see their rates rise about 8 percent over the next two years. In contrast, homeowners consuming the most water will see rates double.

In a significant change, each new pricing tier will be based on less water usage than under the current system. That means more people will be bumped into higher pricing levels.

Rates for multifamily dwellings and nonresidential users will jump nearly 20 percent by 2015, and construction and irrigation users will see hikes of almost 24 percent by the second year.

Some labor advocates, business owners and residents came to Thursday’s council meeting to voice their criticism of the rate proposal. They said it would hurt the poorest San Diegans and unfairly punish certain single-family homeowners with sharply higher rates.

Several homeowners said although they’ve taken steps to conserve water, they’re still in the highest price bracket.

“The fact that you’re changing the tier structure and going up 100 percent, it’s going to affect families the most,” said Chris Rizzuti of Rancho Bernardo. “It’s an attempt to push an agenda of water conservation that does not take into account multiple people in a household.”

Sherman said he shared that concern.

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