Oceanside could see rise in water, wastewater rates

OCEANSIDE — The City Council will consider increased water and wastewater rates Nov. 16.

Per month, single family households that use 10 units of water, or 7,480 gallons, may see a $1.36 increase in water rates, and pay $1.21 more for wastewater.

Higher water rates cover increases in the fixed service rate, unit cost and imported water pass-through charges.

Increased wastewater rates pay for greater fixed monthly charges, fixed service charges and wastewater flow charges.

Greater rates keep services operating by covering increased costs for energy, treatment, regulatory compliance, maintenance and replacement of facilities and infrastructure.

They also fund the development of local water sources. Oceanside is pursuing robust efforts to increase groundwater, expand the recycled water distribution system and implement a potable reuse project that utilizes groundwater recharge.

City water and wastewater rates have been on a steady rise for several years.

Last year council unanimously approved tiered water rates in response to state drought mandates. Tiered rates added $2.68 a month to single-family households who are average water users, and $12.26 more to like households that are high water users.

An across the board 3 percent wastewater increase was also approved.

City Council said last year’s rates increases were unwelcome, but necessary to pay San Diego County Water Authority pass through charges, and city operations and infrastructure costs.

Two years ago 3 percent water and wastewater increases were approved. Like years to follow, the water rate increase was largely due to the rising cost of buying imported water from the San Diego County Water Authority.

Other coastal cities have also approved repeated rate increases.

The Encinitas City Council, which serves as the San Dieguito Water District board, voted for a 6.5 percent increase in November 2015, and up to 6.5 percent increase this year.

Carlsbad restructured its water rates last year. This brought a 6.84 percent increase for single-family households, and higher increases for multifamily and commercial customers.

Oceanside rate increases have been opposed by a good number of speakers every year.

The council has shown steady support for increases that fund infrastructure, needed facilities and development of local water sources.

It has yet to be seen how this year’s increases will be received by residents and the City Council.

Concerns were expressed during council meeting public comments on Nov. 2.

One speaker objected to increases. Another speaker requested better notification for mobile home owners, who often fail to receive notice from park owners who live out of the area.

If City Council approves rate increases next week, higher rates will go into effect within 30 days, unless a majority of city homeowners protest the increased by the close of the meeting.

Oceanside currently charges slightly below the county median cost for water.

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