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Carlsbad residents to see price of water go up

CARLSBAD — Acknowledging that the city is at the mercy of the SDCWA (San Diego County Water Authority), City Council reluctantly authorized a raise in potable and wastewater rates over the next two years. 

Consultants hired by the city came before City Council at their Nov. 5 meeting to propose changes to the potable water rate tier structure as well as a five percent annual revenue increase for potable water for the Carlsbad Municipal Water District through rate increases in 2014 and 2015. They also recommended a two percent increase in sewer, known as wastewater, rates in 2014 and again in 2015. Recycled water rates would stay the same.

The actual cost increases resulting from the new tier structure and the higher potable water and wastewater rates will vary for ratepayers based on how much water they use and whether the water is being delivered to a home or business.

The consultants attributed the increased cost for potable water to the raised water costs from SDCWA, the only source that the city can purchase its water from. The higher wastewater rates were deemed necessary to cover the rising costs of the collection and maintenance of wastewater due to inflation.

Numerous residents protested the increases. The city received 23 letters against the new rates and two people spoke at City Council to voice their opposition.

Carlsbad resident Dan Downing presented his own ideas for reworking how the city pays for water from the SDCWA, saying, “I think it is incumbent upon the citizens and businesses in Carlsbad to ask for a better deal.”

Mayor Pro Tem Mark Packard responded saying, “I don’t think anyone on this dais is excited to raise water rates.”

But he explained that the city of Carlsbad is a “captive audience” to the area’s only supplier, the SDCWA. This is why the city is working on developing alternative water supplies, including the desalination plant that is currently under construction.

“If there is only one supplier, they are going to set the price. So we are working on our dependence there so we can have more control of our bills,” he said.

City Council voted unanimously to authorize the new tier structure and higher rates.