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SPECIAL COVERAGE: Living With Wildfires: San Diego Firestorm 10 Years Later

City Of San Diego Passes Water Rate Increase

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San Diego City Council voted five to two today to approve another water rate increase. It's the sixth rate hike in the last two years.

San Diego City Council voted 5-to-2 today to approve another water rate increase. It’s the sixth rate hike in the last two years.

Unlike other recent water rate increases, city officials said this was simply passing along cost hikes from the County Water Authority.

Councilman Todd Gloria summed up his reluctant support of the rate hike. “We have to pay this $30 million,” he said. “We just have to figure out a way to do it. And it’s fair to say that if we don’t do this, taxpayers of this city will have to pay for it one way or the other.”

If the city had taken the $30 million out of the department’s reserve fund, that would have solved the problem for only one year. City officials said using the reserve fund would also have delayed state mandated pipe upgrades and affected the department’s ability to borrow in the future.

When the City of Oceanside balked at raising water rates last month, it got a warning letter from a credit rating agency.

Water rates for an average family in San Diego will go up more than $4 a month.

The city clerk received 14,000 protest forms from residents. Some residents told the city council they had walked door to door to collect the protest forms. However, under the provisions of Proposition 218, the city would have had to receive more than 135,000 protest forms to reject the increase.

Several residents objected to having to pay for treated water that contains fluoride. City Water Department Chief Jim Barrett said the city buys most of its water untreated, and then treats most of that water without fluoride. However, he said the city is about 18 months away from completing installation of new equipment which will include fluoride.

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