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Water Rates Enter San Diego Mayoral Race

Aired 5/21/12 on KPBS News.

Skyrocketing water rates seem to be a constant issue in San Diego. One of the mayoral candidates is pledging to stop the increases.

— San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio has released a "Bill of Rights" for city water users.

In it, he pledges to overhaul the water rate system to provide more incentives for conservation, improve the city’s water infrastructure and expand San Diego’s water sources. On the controversial subject of recycling sewage to use as drinking water, DeMaio said he’s skeptical.

“That being said, I’m keeping an open mind and await the pilot study report,” he said. “And if it’s shown to work, I will support it as one of many strategies to ensure San Diego has a reliable supply of water.”

If elected mayor, DeMaio said he would require any rate increase be approved by two-thirds of the council. He said as mayor he would also work to amend the city charter to make the two-thirds council vote requirement permanent. That would require a public vote. In addition DeMaio said he would also "force" the San Diego County Water Authority and the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) to adopt the same reforms by showing the agencies how well they work in San Diego.

The other major mayoral candidates responded to DeMaio's plan and floated their own water ideas.

Nathan Fletcher's campaign spokesman Amy Thoma said in a statement: "This is another example of DeMaio’s inability to work with others to solve problems. Instead of building a coalition among Water Authority board members to contain rates, he’s proposing yet another ballot measure – along with the lawsuits and political battles they entail."

Fletcher has his own plan, which focuses on providing clean water and keeping the beaches safe.

DeMaio's campaign points out, if he's elected, DeMaio can implement the changes in his Bill of Rights without a ballot measure, though they wouldn't be part of the city charter.

In a statement, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said San Diego needs more water stability.

"We need to implement a long-term strategy in San Diego that protects ratepayers and provides a sustainable source of water well into the future. I applaud residents who have stepped up to the plate to conserve water and they should not be punished with continuing rate increases."

Congressman Bob Filner also replied to DeMaio's plan. Filner said DeMaio fails to point out that water rates are increasing because of how MWD is charging San Diego to transport water, which Filner calls extortion.

In a statement he said, "The San Diego County Water Authority is fighting this both in court and politically. The mayor should be fighting along side them. What LA Metropolitan District is doing is wrong and we should fight it on all fronts. But we should also have a policy in place which goes around them and makes them meaningless in the long run. That is, if we conserve, if we go to more reuse, what they call indirect potable reuse, if we look for new sources, like desalinization, but do it in an environmentally sound way, then we should get around what they've been doing to us.

"Most of (DeMaio's) stuff is OK, but it misses the major point and it does not put it in a context where the whole city can be involved in working with the mayor and the City Council in fighting what LA is doing."

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Avatar for user 'laplayaheritage'

laplayaheritage | May 21, 2012 at 4:18 p.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

Mayoral candidate Congressman Bob Filner and Democrats Rally to Take Back City Hall
Wednesday, May 23, 2012. 4:30 pm to 6 pm, at
Rich's San Diego in Hillcrest, 1051 University Avenue, SD 92103.
Join Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and Donna Frye at the Bob Filner for Mayor rally you won't want to miss! With special guest: City Commissioner Nicole Murray-Ramirez.

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Avatar for user 'laplayaheritage'

laplayaheritage | May 22, 2012 at 9:21 a.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

Mayoral Forum this Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 6:30pm
University Christian Church - 3900 Cleveland @ Richmond

To help commemorate National Historic Preservation Month, the Neighborhood Historic Preservation Coalition invited all four major Mayoral candidates to participate in this year's Primary election forum. Only Congressman Bob Filner agreed, citing his strong interest and commitment to San Diego's older neighborhoods and their active community groups.

The public policies and activities of City government have a significant impact on our community and this Preservation Forum provides an opportunity for dialog, through questions and answers, spotlighting the important issues facing San Diego's older and historic neighborhoods.

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Avatar for user 'RealityNotSoMuch'

RealityNotSoMuch | May 22, 2012 at 10:36 a.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

There have been many mayors in San Diego since I moved here in 1970. Not one has fixed the water rape problem. Mayors seem to have as much control over the situation as I do--we complain about it, we talk about how to fix it, maybe we dazzle some people with how much we know of San Diego's water history and future solutions, maybe we become active on some water board (there are many to choose from), but we do not have the ability to fix the problem. Not for one second do I believe San Diego's next mayor will make a difference about our water rapes. Vote for the mayor candidate who can make good things happen, but fuggedaboudit if you think any candidate will fix our water costs.

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