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San Diego City Water Rates May Rise Again

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The city of San Diego is preparing to inform its residents of another water rate increase. Critics say the city should only pass the extra cost of water along to users if water agencies adopt reforms.

The city of San Diego is preparing to inform its residents of another water rate increase. Critics say the city should only pass the extra cost of water along to users if water agencies adopt reforms.

The proposed water rate increases would cost the average family in the city of San Diego an extra $3.40 a month.

The Water Department says the rate hike is simply passing on the rising cost of imported water provided by Southern California's Metropolitan Water District, or MWD. They say these costs, an extra $25 million, were not included in the cities' four year rate hikes passed in 2007. Water Agencies around the region are calling these rate hikes a "pass through."

But Councilman Carl DeMaio says he thinks the rate increase is not just to cover higher water costs, but the result of wage and benefit increases at the MWD and the city water department. He says he’s hearing from his constituents.

“They’ve cut their water20 or 30 percent, but their bills continue to go higher and higher.” DeMaio said, “In fact, if you look at all the rate increases we’ve seen in recent years, the water bill of the average family has gone up 65 percent from February of 2007.”

Don Billings, a member of the citizens' oversight committee examining the rate increase, says water just is getting more expensive and DeMaio’s analysis is bogus.

“Carl persists in telling this false story that it’s about surging pension benefits,” Billings said, “That’s flatly false.”

The vice chair of the committee, Andy Hollingworth, requested that the council ask MWD to delay cost increases until after the economy improves.

The council’s Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Donna Frye, forwarded the issue on for full council consideration in two weeks, without a recommendation.

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