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Politics

Sewage, Water Rate Hikes Proposed For San Diego City

A water meter in the ground is shown at a home in Normal Heights, Dec. 24, 2017
Scott Templeton
A water meter in the ground is shown at a home in Normal Heights, Dec. 24, 2017

San Diego residents and businesses could see their sewage rates rise four years in a row, starting with a 5% hike in January 2022, under a package of proposed water and sewage rate increases that the City Council's budget committee send to the full council Wednesday.

The council will hold hearings and vote in September on a package that also includes a water rate increase from the San Diego County Water Authority.

The sewage rate increase, the first in more than a decade, is intended to match fees with the cost of providing sewage removal and treatment services and to cover infrastructure repair costs, committee members and city staff said at Wednesday's hearing.

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A typical single-family residential customer using 7 HCF (700 cubic feet, equal to about 5,236 gallons) of water in a two-month billing period now pays $40.52 for wastewater disposal and would pay $47.64 starting in January 2022, according to a presentation by city staff.

Rates and increases vary based on a customer's water use and other factors. Sewage rates would rise another 4% in 2023, 4% in 2024 and 3% in 2025.

Included in the proposal now heading to the full council is a recommendation from city staff for large increases in the fees that businesses pay for San Diego's Industrial Waste Control Program.

Committee members said the current rates fall well short of covering the cost of treating industrial wastewater.

The proposal also includes a 2% increase in water prices to reflect higher rates the city pays to the County Water Authority for about 90% of the water it provides to city residents and businesses.

At the request of Councilmember Chris Cate, who chairs the budget committee, consideration of the water rate was separated from consideration of the sewage rate hikes.

The committee voted unanimously to send the sewage rate package to the full council. It voted 3-to-1, with Cate in opposition, to send the water rate hike to the full council.

The proposals were first publicized in March. Detailed are available at www.sandiego.gov/public-utilities/customer-service/water-and-sewer-rates/increases.