OCEANSIDE — The notice is in the mail to inform customers that water and wastewater rates are likely to increase beginning in January of next year.
The proposed rate increases will go to cover the expenses of purchasing water, wastewater infrastructure costs, operations, and bond payments.
Water rates are slated to increase by 6.5 percent and wastewater rates are set to rise by 5 percent.
The proposed increases introduced at the City Council Workshop June 19, will raise water rates for a family of four that uses 12 units of water from $58.85 to $62.65.
Wastewater rates are proposed to climb from $54.05 to $56.76 for the same size household with medium sewer flow.
In addition to rate increases a temporary $3.26 surcharge may be added to bills to cover fines for the Haymar sewer line spill that occurred in December 2010. The cost to the city is under dispute, but it may be as much as $1.5 million.
Local water costs are highly dependent on water purchase rates set by MWD (Metropolitan Water District) and SDCWA (San Diego County Water Authority.)
Water Utilities Director Cari Dale said about 46 cents out of every dollar paid by customers goes to the MWD.
Increased water prices passed down by the MWD and SDCWA continue to push water bills up. However, the Water Utilities Department has reduced its operating and maintenance costs, saving customers from adding another 3 percent to their bill.
The increase in the MWD water transportation charge is being disputed in court and several city staff members said it looks favorable that the charge will be decreased for San Diego County cities, and in turn their customers. Court results are expected in 2013. At that time local water rates will be adjusted.
The city is currently purchasing 85 percent of its water and providing 15 percent of its water through local supply. The goal is to cut its water purchase to 50 percent by 2025.
Dale said developing local water sources is a good investment.
ìWe would like to see 50 percent of our water come internally,î Mayor Jim Wood said. ìIt’s one of the most valuable assets we have.î
Wastewater rates are set to increase by 5 percent.
To meet costs there may also be changes to the tiered wastewater rates structure. It will continue to reward minimum flow and low flow customers, but will ask them to use less water than currently required to qualify for cheaper wastewater rates. The proposed change still needs to be annualized.
ìThe tiers were set many years ago,î Dale said. ìWater use has changed.î
A public hearing on water and wastewater rates will be held Oct. 3.