Local water rates set to rise soon

OCEANSIDE — Oceanside held a workshop Aug. 20 to get the word out to residents that monthly wastewater rates may jump by as much as $14.82 and water rates may increase by $10.43 a month for a family of four.
The higher rates will cover the increased cost of pass-through charges for water bought from the Metropolitan Water District, Lonnie Thibodeaux, the water utilities director, said.
Notices of the increases are scheduled to be sent out to residents in October and higher rates are expected to be charged in November.
The exact amounts of the increases still need to be determined.
There are four options on the table for wastewater rates that propose adding between $4.06 to $14.82 to the monthly bill of a household of four, and four proposals for water rate increases that add an extra $6.34 to $10.43 per month.
The higher rates will cover the cost of water and if the maximum increases are OK’d will allow capital improvement projects to go forward and ensure capital reserves. “We have some big projects coming up,” Thibodeaux said. “What I really want to see done is the Myers, Oceanside Boulevard and Tait Street sewer lines. CityMark and other (downtown) developers are going to max out present sewer lines.”
The Myers Street, Oceanside Boulevard and Tait Street sewer line project will cost $150,000 in 2009-2010 and $3.9 million when the project is completed.
Also on the top of the list of planned wastewater projects are improvements to the Buena Vista lift station at $8.1 million and replacement of the Haymar Drive sewer line at $1.7 millon.
Future projects include outfall replacement of aging facilities at $17 million and improvements to the Oceanside Boulevard lift station at $3.8 million. Without a significant rate increase projects will be postponed.
Minimum increases will pay for the higher cost of imported water.
“The biggest driver of our water rates is the water supply challenge,” Dennis Cushman, assistant general manager of San Diego County Water Authority, said.
Regulations on how much water can be pumped from natural sources, an ongoing drought, and the effects of climate change add up to less supply and higher costs of imported water.
“It is not a trivial matter to raise rates,” Brian Thomas, chief financial officer of the Metropolitan Water District, said. “Water supply on a wholesale level is going to be a challenge for a long time.”
Oceanside gets 54 percent of its water from the Colorado River, 30 percent from Northern California and 18 percent from local water supplies.
An increase in water from local supplies does not bring down the cost of water, but does ensure more water.
“This region made choices to diversify,” Cushman said. “By not buying water from the Metropolitan Water District we’re making sure we have highly reliable water supplies.”
A town hall meeting will be held in October to inform residents about wastewater and water rate increase options.

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