Liz Swain 5:30 p.m., Sept. 22
Water rates hike proposed for some South County residents
Sweetwater Authority to consider water rate increase, some increases as high as 50%
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.
More like this:
- City of Carlsbad in a fight for water — Dec. 17, 2013
- Whatcha gonna do when your well runs dry? — June 19, 2013
- City Attorney prepares council for a vote on increased water rates — May 15, 2013
- SDG&E Defends Solar Rate Hike At County Hearing — Dec. 6, 2011
- Does the City Care How Much Water You Use? — Oct. 3, 2002