Water rates for San Diego residents will not increase next fiscal year, Mayor Jerry Sanders announced Thursday, hours after the city's water wholesaler voted to increase the price for water by more than 8.5 percent.
The city's Public Utilities Department will instead absorb an extra $8.75 million in wholesale water cost due to the vote by the San Diego County Water Authority, which had its rates increased by the Metropolitan Water District in Los Angeles, the mayor's office said in a media release.
Mayor Sanders accused the Los Angeles wholesaler of "artificially inflating" its rates to charge the San Diego region more, adding he supported the County Water Authority in its lawsuit against the wholesaler.
“The cost of water is an enormous concern for everyone in this city, from the families trying to keep their households solvent to the businesses struggling through the worst economy since the 1930s,” Mayor Sanders said. “We are doing everything in our power to postpone any future water-rate increases as long as possible.”
To shoulder the new cost for the 2012 fiscal year, the Public Utilities Department will use various methods, including maximizing local water supply use and keeping unfilled jobs vacant as long as possible, the mayor's office said.
The city has the luxury of being able to purchase less water from its wholesalers after a rainy winter and cool spring boosted the county's reservoirs to higher-than-usual levels, the release said.
The new fiscal year begins July 1.