Carlsbad City Council discussed putting $9.1 million of a Fiscal Year 2018-19 surplus into the city's economic contingency fund during a meeting on Oct. 22 . Photo by Steve Puterski
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CMWD proposes first rate increase in years

CARLSBAD — After years of flat rates, the Carlsbad Municipal Water District is requesting a slight rate increase.

Vicki Quiram, general manager of CMWD, said the rate increases are due to several factors, including rising rates for purchasing water from the San Diego Water Authority and inflation of maintenance costs.

After a cost of study review of the district’s budget and outside costs, Quiram and Legeia Heagy, a management analyst, said potable water will receive a 1% increase and 3% for wastewater beginning Jan 1, 2020. Those rates will increase again by 2% and 3%, respectively, on Jan. 1, 2021.

Recycled water rates, meanwhile, will not increase. The two reported the findings of the study during the Sept. 17 City Council meeting; although the council, which acts as the CMWD’s board of directors, must approve the increases during its Nov. 19 meeting.

It’s the first rate increase for CMWD in several years, Quiram said.

“The study took a look at what does our revenue stream need to be to keep these important utilities running,” Quiram said. “It’s so important because making sure we have clean and sustainable water is what keeps our community healthy and safe.”

SDWA has raised its rates for purchasing water, including desalinated water, she added, which accounts for about 55% of the district’s total water budget.

“That was one of the big drivers for the increases,” Quiram said.

As for residents, over the next two years it means about a $5 increase on their monthly bill for single-family residences.

Comparatively, she said the district has one of the best water systems in the county, especially when it comes to recycled water, which is used for irrigation.

Quiram and Heagy also went into details regarding CMWD’s five master plans covering wastewater, recycled and potable water, asset management and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCAD). Quiram said the master plans have been updated and provide a road map to maintain the infrastructure.

Its goal is to maintain the system to avoid massive replacement projects costly to the district and ratepayers and extend the useful lifespan.

“Management of our assets is really driving how we do our maintenance,” Quiram added. “It used to be we maintained on a schedule. Now, we maintain our infrastructure on age and condition.”

Overall, though, Quiram said the city’s water demand is not increasing at the rates it has in the past. She said the reasons are people are using water differently, transitioning to zeroscaping and using less.

“We have the 2020 Urban Water Management Plan coming up,” Heagy said. “That will give us the best and most recent data for water demand and growth consumption.”

One change, though, is for breweries with and without restaurants, which are expected to migrate into one of four new classes, according to Heagy. Breweries hauling their brewing waste offsite for treatment will be charged equal to a C2 commercial rate, while those who do not haul waste for outside treatment will be charged a higher rate.

“Currently, there are 10 breweries in Carlsbad, and some operate a restaurant,” she added. “Wastewater staff will begin outreach with the breweries to discuss the Waste Diversion Program and work with the breweries to get them into the best class option for their business.”

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