OCEANSIDE — City Council approved user rate increases for water and wastewater earlier at its Nov. 7 meeting.
City staff recommended to council a 3% increase to the city’s internal water rate between January and June 2020. The rate increase will return in January 2021.
The increase also comes with to several related “pass-through” fees from the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) and the Metropolitan Water District (MWD).
According to Water Utilities Director Cari Dale, that would increase a single family’s rates anywhere between $1.64 (6 units of water used) to $7.19 (11 units of water used) per month.
Staff expects these water rate changes to increase revenues by $537,837.
Staff also recommended a 2% increase for wastewater usage, which is expected to increase revenues by $454,601 between January and June of next year.
Additionally, the city is increasing its waste service fee of 5%.
According to staff, the rate increases are driven by rising costs from the MWD. Still, these funds recover energy costs and infrastructure improvements.
The city has not raised its water and wastewater rates since January 2021 and boasts having the lowest in the region for water and wastewater rates.
The rate increases are also driven by more construction of water supply and water rehabilitation projects, like developing a diversified local water supply, expanding the recycled water distribution system and reduce reliance on imported water.
The city of Oceanside has a goal of reaching 50% local supply for water by 2030. Currently, the city imports 89% of its water.
The Pure Water Oceanside project will provide that local groundwater source, reducing the city’s imported water rates to 67% by 2025.
Councilman Chris Rodriguez said he would have liked to see the cost of service study for years 2020 and 2021 sooner than Nov. 1 when it was made public.
Rodriguez also asked what measures could be taken to help lower income residents with the rate increases.
Dale said there is an effort at the state level to assist lower income state residents with utility increases. In Oceanside, she explained, the rate structure is tiered and sets the rate structure for the bottom tier at a lower level.
“Customers can take advantage of that pricing structure by using less water,” Dale said.
Dale also noted other programs in the city that help customers reduce bills such as the WaterSmart portal, an online tool that works with the billing system and provides customers with information on their water usage and suggests rebates available based on their water usage.
“The metering infrastructure that we’ll be moving forward in 2020 will also provide a lot of data analytics for people to better manage their use,” Dale said.
The rate increases were approved 4-0 with Councilwoman Esther Sanchez absent. The rates were originally scheduled to be considered at the Nov. 6 council meeting, but it was postponed for the next day due to the meeting running late.
Samantha Nelson covers Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and the decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. She earned her journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and has previously reported for The Athens Messenger in Athens, Ohio, and USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @samm1son