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Regional Water Agency Starts Fiscal Year With Bigger Budget

Aired 7/1/13 on KPBS News.

San Diego County Water Authority starts this new fiscal year with a $1.5 billion budget that includes modest rate hikes on the price it charges member agencies for water. The increases are because more water is being used in San Diego and the cost to get it here is growing.

San Diego’s County Water Authority (CWA) supplies water to 24 smaller water agencies around the region. The authority’s budget for the coming year increased 5 percent — that’s compared to a 16 percent cut in last year’s budget from the year before. The agency has had to eliminate 30 staff positions, which have not been restored.

Capital costs for the authority are down, now that an expansion of the San Vicente Dam is complete, creating capacity to store enough extra water to supply 300,000 families for a year.

Credit: CWA

County Water Authority Budget 2014

But the cost to import water from outside the county will rise between 5 and 10 percent — 5 percent from the Metropolitan Water District and 10 percent from the Imperial Valley.

This year, the CWA will increase wholesale water rates for treated water by more than 3 percent. But that rate hike is considerably less than wholesale water rate hikes over the last six years, some of which were as high as 20 per cent.

The wholesale rate increase will likely translate into 1 or 2 percent rate hikes on water bills for households, depending on local water agencies, which may have other costs of their own to add.

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