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SD County Water Authority Votes To Raise Water Rates

Pricier water bills are in store for San Diego County residents next year after the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors voted Thursday to raise rates by almost 10 percent.

The price hike for water the CWA delivers to two dozen local agencies is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1. The water authority blames the primary water wholesaler for Southern California -- the Metropolitan Water District -- for around 8.5 percent of the jump.

Local agencies that send water to the taps of homeowners, restaurants and hotels -- from the city of San Diego to the Padre Dam Municipal Water District in Santee or San Dieguito Water District in Encinitas -- could be hard- pressed to avoid passing the rate increases on to customers.

"The board took a long, hard look at how to keep the 2013 rates as low as we could,'' chairman Michael Hogan said.

"The adopted rates reflect the necessary balance of minimizing impacts to our region's ratepayers, maintaining the water authority's fiscal stability, and paying for vital water supply and infrastructure projects that provide increasing protection and benefits for our region's $186 billion economy and 3.1 million residents now and for decades to come.''

The CWA will charge $1,003 per acre-foot of untreated water, up $88 per acre-foot, or 9.6 percent above the current rate. The treated water rate for 2013 will be $1,259 per acre-foot, up $111 per acre-foot, or 9.7 percent more.

An acre-foot of water equals roughly 325,900 gallons, enough to meet the needs of two average single-family households of four people for a year, according to the CWA.

The CWA said actual changes to a customer's water bill will vary, depending on the mix of water their local agency purchases from the water authority and each agency's own rate-setting decisions in coming months.

The rate hikes also stem from increased debt service costs for $3.5 billion in major new infrastructure projects, and an increase in the amount and price of purchases of water from the Imperial Irrigation District.

The CWA has sued the MWD over the price of wholesale water.

The authority claims the MWD's price structure discriminates against San

Diego. MWD officials say San Diego is paying the price for previous decisions.

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