City of San Diego proposes water rate hike

SAN DIEGO — A proposal by the city of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department to raise water rates more than 7 percent in each of the next two years is scheduled to go before the City Council on Tuesday.

water ratesThe proposed increases would be 7.25 percent in the calendar year 2014, and an additional 7.5 percent the next year. The higher rates would vary among individual customers based on their amount of water usage.

The City Council won’t be deciding whether to approve the plan at next week’s meeting, but rather will schedule a public hearing for November and authorize notices to be delivered to water customers.

The proposed rate increases are the result of a study on the projected costs for the department to provide water to area residents and businesses. Among the factors considered were increases in wholesale water rates and the need to pay debt service on major infrastructure projects.

The Public Utilities Department said it absorbed higher costs recently imposed by the Metropolitan Water District, the major wholesaler in Southern California, by reducing other expenses.

Interim Mayor Todd Gloria said the rate “adjustment” is “very necessary” to afford the city’s higher costs.

“What we’ve done for the past two years is to absorb the additional cost of water within the city’s budget,” Gloria said. “We can’t continue on that path. This is the fiscally responsible way to handle it, so I support that, and I think the City Council will support it, as well.”

Water rates in San Diego were last raised on March 1, 2011.