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The Sweetwater Authority board of directors will consider a water rate increase on August 26. The authority provides water services to National City, Bonita and western and central Chula Vista.

The rate structure for Sweetwater Authority is a tiered system designed to incentivize conservation. Curiously, however, the average customer (a consumer in the second tier) might be paying an increase of 4.4 % while a consumer in the first tier, who uses the least amount of water will be facing a 50 % increase.

Rich Stevenson, finance director for Sweetwater Authority, explained in a recent interview that first tier customers have been paying a rate that was too low, and that this proposed adjustment will bring those rates closer to the actual cost of water. The first-tier increase, Stevenson said, will also be more reflective of water rates in other water districts.

The water authority had anticipated rates would rise by 9.9 % in 2013-2014, however the Operations Committee reported an excess reserve of over $5 million. Part of this excess was due to the fact that constomers purchased more water than was expected in 2012-2013.

The Sweetwater Authority website lists several reasons for the rate increase including Water Treatment Plant and distribution system improvements; replacement of aging water distribution pipelines; Hydrogeological projects to maintain and expand the Authority's local groundwater supplies and more.

Sweetwater Authority has a $10 million reserve for expanding a groundwater treatment facility.

The website also has several charts, albeit bewildering, which show the proposed rate increases for single family and multiple family dwellings.

On the eve of Sweetwater's rate hike last year, Herman Baca, president of the Chicano Committee, wrote an article for the San Diego Free Press titled: "Sweetwater Authority's $49,083,000 Water Rate Increase."

In the article Baca notes that the rates have been increased six times in the last seven years--only in 2011 did resident outcry impede a proposed increase.

Baca expressed concern for South County residents who have low or fixed incomes. He wrote: "There are many things that individuals in the community can do without; water is not one of them. Poor people, especially in National City, the poorest in SD County, median income of $39,000, and others on fixed income in the South Bay could find themselves, if the increase is approved, choosing to pay their water bill over lives other necessities...food, rent, clothing, etc..."

Sweetwater Authority's meeting to consider the proposed rate hikes will be held at 6:00 at 505 Garrett Avenue in Chula Vista.

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Comments

Woodchuck Aug. 24, 2013 @ 9:37 a.m.

My wife and I have tried very hard to conserve water. Our lawns are brown but we grow some vegetables in the summer, so the bill goes up. We will certainly be punished for this behavior and fixed income or not, the Sweetwater Board will force more rate increases upon us. There will always be an excuse for these dictators to expand their power and kingdom while the peasants can do without. I would advise folks to watch which members act arbitrarily and vote them out!

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Susan Luzzaro Aug. 25, 2013 @ 10:43 a.m.

woodchuck, I know what you mean. I'm afraid my tomatoes are not penciling out this summer...

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Woodchuck Aug. 26, 2013 @ 9:47 a.m.

Ha Ha, do you mean that $10-$15 a pound might be too steep when you add in all the cost?

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anniej Aug. 27, 2013 @ 8:40 p.m.

And what of those who have, for years, nursed fruit trees?

We too have chosen to be frugal when it comes to water consumption - still remember when one of our young grandchildren came home and and shared what they had learned in school that day about water conservation - 'if its not brown don't flush it down'

This story seems to indicate that it does not make much difference if you are true conservationists when it comes to H2o - looks like they are going to get you one way or another.

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Reader2 Aug. 27, 2013 @ 10:16 p.m.

Has anyone heard anything about the desalination plant recently? Is it running? I wonder if that's adding to the cost of business?

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erupting Aug. 28, 2013 @ 10:34 a.m.

This is crazy another hike,no! Hell I only water once a week now. This is abusive toooo many hikes.

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turtle638 Oct. 24, 2013 @ 5:54 p.m.

City of Chula Vista informed me that 24,223 letters need to be delivered..(no e-mails accepted)...including owners name, signature and, address in order for them to stop the rate increase....Anyone get started yet??

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