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A forum to explain water-rate hikes in the City of Escondido was held on January 6. Raftelis Financial Consultants conducted a rate study of the five-year plan: a typical family bill should decrease slightly in 2011 and then increase by ten dollars every year for the following four years. Rates for industrial water usage, however, will rise by 118 percent.

According to Lori Vereker, director of utilities for the city, the rates are consistent with the water budget. “Some industrial bills will go down,” she said, “but some will go way up. We’ve been allocating some costs inappropriately.”

At a cost of more than $1,000,000 per mile to replace, old water pipelines represent an economic challenge to the City of Escondido.

“We have a few pipelines in this city that are reaching about a hundred years old,” Vereker said. “They’re old cast-iron pipes, and we really need to get in there and get those replaced. We don’t have a huge number of those, but we have enough so that it’s a concern.”

The cost of imported water is another challenge. Delta water has been down by 5 percent, and for the last nine or ten years, the Colorado River has been at drought levels. “That’s where we’re getting most of our imported water at this point,” Vereker said.

At the city council meeting of January 12, Vereker will ask councilmembers to conduct a public hearing about the water-rate study and to consider proposed increases in rates and fees.

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