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City Will Not Raise Water Prices Next Year

Despite a nearly 10 percent increase in wholesale water prices, the city of San Diego won't raise its prices in the new year, Mayor Jerry Sanders said today.

The Public Utilities Department is expected to absorb increased costs up to about $20 million, Sanders said.

"We'll be absorbing that through excess funds we have saved over the years,'' he said.

He said the city would rely less on imported water and get a greater portion of municipal supplies from less expensive local reservoirs. Some construction jobs being done for the Public Utilities Department also turned out to be less expensive than estimated.

Local water supplies are in good shape, Sanders said, thanks to the 5 inches of rain that fell in December 2010, the ninth rainiest December on record.

If San Diego gets 10 inches of precipitation this rainy season, local supplies should be sufficient, Sanders said. Future mayors, however, will need to consider a rate increase, he said.

"People are still kind of reeling from the recession, and when we cannot pass those (wholesale increases) along, we think it helps out a lot of consumers, especially consumers who are having trouble making ends meet,'' Sanders said. "Water's gotten pretty expensive over the last several years, so anything we can do to help consumers kind of stabilize their finances is something we try to do.''

Consumers pay for city water operations via monthly bills.

In January, the San Diego County Water Authority will start charging the city 9.6 percent more for water.

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