Feb 28, 2007

San Diego Water Rates to Rise 35 Percent

The San Diego Council has approved four years’ worth of water and sewer rate hikes, which will allow for two utilities to raise money for construction projects the city must legally finish.

The average water rate will rise 35% over the next four years, while sewer rates will be raised 29%. According to the Voice of San Diego, Mayor Jerry Sanders has been requesting support for the project for over a year.

The new fees will generate approximately $440 million to help finance sewer line replacements, water treatment plant upgrades and other improvements that the city is required to make. These improvements are expected to reduce spills and pipe breaks, and keep the city’s drinking water clean.

The increase will be reflected in May’s sewer bills, and the water bill in July.

The construction projects are necessary due to a settlement between the EPA and environmentalists and the wastewater department, which requires the city to replace between 40 and 50 miles of sewer line annually. The state's order will also require the city to enhance its water cleansing processes to avoid the fatal parasite cryptosporidium.

The Voice of San Diego reports that the San Diego County Taxpayers Association and San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce endorsed the rate hikes after Mayor Sanders agreed to empanel an independent committee that would monitor the city's use of the new funds.

The tax-adverse Performance Institute did not endorse the measure, and insisted that rates should not be increased until the city can control its payroll costs and institute a better way of monitoring the management of its utilities.