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District will need $1.2 million more to import water

ENCINITAS — Low rainfall and higher water demands means that the San Dieguito Water District will spend about $1.2 million more to import water than initially planned this year, according to a city water district budget report.

The Encinitas Council, sitting as the San Dieguito Water District board, voted 4-0 to approve the higher than expected water bill Wednesday afternoon. Kristin Gaspar was absent.

The water district, which serves customers in Encinitas generally west of El Camino Real, had budgeted $4.7 million to buy water from the San Diego County Water Authority, the county’s chief water wholesaler, for the fiscal year that ends June 30.

The district has already burned through $3.9 million – or 85 percent of the budgeted amount — as of March 31, and now anticipates the bill will be closer to $5.9 million. Water district staff attributed the increased imports to a lack of rainfall to feed the district’s chief local potable water source, Lake Hodges, and a 3 percent rise in drinking water demand.

“Any agency that relies on local water source hasn’t been able to replenish their sources because we haven’t had significant rainfall in a couple of years and we are all kind of running low on local water,” said Jeff Umbrasas, the water district’s administrative services manager. “The whole region is relying on imported water at this point, and that is much costlier than local water sources.”

Staff is proposing to increase the budget for purchasing imported water by $1.1 million to account for the shortfall — the remaining $100,000 comes from savings from using less local water. Officials said they expect the increase to get the water district through the budget year.