Water rates could increase in Poway under new proposal

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POWAY, Calif. – Residents and businesses in Poway soon could be paying more on their water bills.

Poway Mayor Steve Vaus speaks during a Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021 meeting of Poway City Council in Poway, Calif.

Poway City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to set a public hearing on a proposed four-year rate increase for water, recycled water and wastewater rates. It comes as the city grapples with how to deal with the future of water for its residents, challenged by rising costs to import water and the need to pay into capital improvement projects.

Under its proposed Water Capital Improvement Program, the city would replace its decades-old clear well with new water storage and connect Poway with the San Diego Water Authority’s treated water source, rather than the raw water the city currently has to treat. 

“We pay the same rates everybody else does in this city,” Poway Mayor Steve Vaus said, “but what we do want to do is ensure the future of our infrastructure so that when you turn your tap on you’ll get clean water.”

So the question is: what could Poway residents be paying for this? 

The city lists a few options, but Aaron Beanan, the city’s director of finance, said the likely one includes a 10% increase in water prices in January 2022. That would increase another 9% the following year and 8% the next two years after that. 

That means by 2025, the average household in Poway would pay about $103 every other month for water. The average non-residential customer would pay about $640 more every two months. 

Beanan said Poway’s water rates are similar – and in some cases, lower – than other cities in the county.

“I’m sure people wont be happy, but if it prevents a disaster like that happened in (2019), I bet there’s not a business out there that wouldn’t pay the extra to have not lost with the water problem,” said Mike Pisulka, owner of Players Sports Grill. 

If the Water Program isn’t put into place, Beanan said water rates would go up by about 7% because the city will have to pay to import water. 

Residents will soon be notified about the proposal by mail. A public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 2.

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