OCEANSIDE — Discussion at the water workshop held on Oct. 23 brought good news for single-family residential customers with low water use. Their water rates will go down by 1.7 percent.
Single-family medium and high water use customers will see a slight rate increase of 1 to 3.6 percent.
Single-family customers comprise the majority of city water users. As a group they are using significantly less water, which is reflected in rate adjustments.
“Single families should see some relief on their bills,” Cari Dale, water utilities director, said. “It’s a reflection of continuing good conservation practices. They really did the majority of conserving when we asked them to. Their usage patterns really shifted. The department wants to thank them for doing their part.”
Single-family customers will see a minimum wastewater increase as well. Low-use customers will have a 0.8 percent increase and high-use customers will have a decrease of 7.3 percent.
All other customer groups will be paying more for water and wastewater.
Robert Grantham, vice president of Carollo Engineers, said this recommendation is a one-time adjustment based on changes in cost of service for each user group since the rate structure was designed in 2007. Future rate adjustments will have across the board increases or decreases.
Present increases will hit multifamily residential customers, specifically mobile home, apartment and duplex owners, as well as commercial and agricultural water customers.
Multifamily customers with low water use will have a 13.7 percent cost increase. Multifamily high-use customers will have an 11.5 percent increase.
Commercial customers will also see a greater increase for low water use customers at 16 percent, than high-use customers at 8 percent.
Multifamily residential wastewater customers will pay 9 percent to 15 percent more for wastewater, with low-use customers paying the top increase.
Commercial wastewater customers will see a 9 percent to 11 percent cost increase, with low-use customers having a greater rate spike.
Revised water rates will cover water purchase, transportation and infrastructure.
Dale said the city would be looking at below ground pipe maintenance and replacement in the immediate years ahead. Studies will determine exact needs and costs.
“We’ll be doing a master plan update that looks at what infrastructure should be replaced, when, and the dollar amount in the next few months,” she said.
Maintenance of the 500 miles of water pipeline is essential to ensure customers continue to receive water.
“Why we’re asking what we’re asking is to have capital to reinvest in our system,” Grantham said. “An increased expenditure is projected for three years.”
Costs for future projects beyond infrastructure maintenance will be requested at the next city budget discussion.
A $90 million expansion of the San Luis Rey River desalination plant is on the horizon. Plant expansion will allow an additional 5 million gallons of water to be output. This effort would increase the city’s self-reliant water supply.
The city’s goal is to have 50 percent of its water from self-reliant sources by 2030. City Council will address water and wastewater rate increases on Nov. 6. Approved rates will be effective Jan. 1, 2014.