You're About to Pay More for Water

By Gene Cubbison
|  Monday, Jan 24, 2011  |  Updated 8:08 PM PDT
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You're About to Pay More for Water

The city will be raising water rates soon.
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After hearing dozens of angry residents howl in protest, the San Diego City Council grudgingly approved a water rate increase on Monday in a 6-2 vote effective March 1.

The rising cost of water in San Diego has brought public outrage to a boil.

Residents wonder why their monthly water and sewer bills keep growing, when their usage has been shrinking.

Our wholesale suppliers say they're just passing on the escalating costs of pipeline construction and delivery and bonded debt service. Critics suspect those costs are padded with waste and inefficiencies, if not abuse and fraud.

"We cut back to the point where we killed all our lawns and we thought it would be just for a short amount of time, but over a period of time it's going up and up and up. It's getting difficult to live in San Diego any more, it's just pretty out of hand,” said Serra Mesa resident Bob Clark.

The consumer group UCAN channeled ratepayer opposition on Monday. They delivered rotten potatoes to City Hall along with petitions protesting a water rate hike that takes effect March 1 -- six months after the most recent one.

It'll cost the typical homeowner another $3.41 a month. Citywide, it'll generate $25-million.

Opponents say the city should look at reserves from an over collection on cost projections in past years, tens of millions of dollars in unneeded construction, staff bonuses and bureaucratic reforms that all together could offset the rate hike.

But an 11-member community oversight panel on public utilities doesn't see those as readily accessible and sources to replace a ratepayer increase.

"It's a very costly proposition to bring water to this area and treat it and people need to understand and get used to the fact that the price is going to go up," said Independent Rates Oversight Committee Member Don Billings.

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