The Coast News Group

Water District approves 6.5% rate hike

ENCINITAS — The San Dieguito Water District unanimously adopted a series of water rate increases over the next four years.

Property owners will see their rates rise 6.5 percent next year and up to 6.5 percent in the following fiscal year. The water district board, which is essentially the Encinitas City Council, voted at its Jan. 20 meeting to approve the increases.

The new rates take effect Feb. 1.

Many water districts have seen the rate they charge ratepayers skyrocket in recent months, largely due to several factors:

  • The drought, which has forced water districts to purchase more expensive imported water rather than getting it from local reservoirs, and the subsequent drought conservation efforts  have siphoned off the very revenue districts rely on to operate.
  • A recent lawsuit against San Juan Capistrano has altered how rates and charges are calculated by requiring cities to justify their tiered rates structures
  • The state has required cities and water districts to start paying down its unfunded pension liabilities, requiring cities to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to meet the mandate.

Originally, however, city staff recommended raising rates by 9 percent over the four-year period, which would have allowed the district to pay down its unfunded pension liabilities in 20 years as opposed to 30 years. Catherine Blakespear and Lisa Shaffer supported that rate structure back in November, but board members Kristin Gaspar, Tony Kranz and Mark Muir voted in support of the lower short-term rates.

The San Dieguito Water District serves about 38,000 customers in Leucadia, Old Encinitas, Cardiff and portions of New Encinitas. The Olivenhain Water District covers the rest of the city.