Imperial Beach residents weigh in on potential water rate hikes

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IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. -- Water rates are set to rise next year for at least some parts of San Diego County, including Imperial Beach, Coronado and some sections of San Diego served by the California American Water Company.

The rates are renegotiated every three years, but it’s about an 18-month process to determine just how much those rates will climb.

Thursday night, South Bay residents had their chance to give input and voice concerns over proposed rate hikes for the three-year period between 2021 and 202 at a public meeting at the Imperial Beach City Council chambers.

"I am really, really upset about this rate increase," said Isabel O'Neil.

"We need greater explanation of what the consolidation is and who’s all involved in it and what the projected benefits are," said Mitch McKay.

Consolidation means if the water company can get the San Diego region to join with others like Los Angeles, those rates may only increase by 2 to 3% per year. However, if consolidation does not happen, the increase would be more significant, resulting in about a 12% hike for 2021.

The rates are regularly renegotiated to account for increase in expenses, operations and infrastructure improvements. A judge will weigh in on the rates, then present his findings to California’s Public Utilities Commission, which ultimately has the deciding vote. Until then, Cal-Am must make its case and hear public input throughout the regions it serves.

A series of public hearings on this matter will begin in April in San Francisco, but no formal decision is expected until closer to the end of 2020.

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