San Diego water rate hikes proposed - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego water rate hikes proposed

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego County Water Authority Thursday proposed rate hikes on the water it provides to local water districts, citing higher expenses and state-mandated cutbacks.

The SDCWA -- which obtains water from a variety of sources and distributes it to member agencies such as the city of San Diego -- proposed an increase of 6.6 percent for untreated water and 5.4 percent for treated water in the 2016 calendar year.

The cost of water received from the main water wholesaler in Southern California, the Metropolitan Water District, has gone up, the water authority said. The SDCWA said it also has to factor in costs from the desalination plant in Carlsbad, which could begin producing water this fall.

The agency said it also has to make up for cutbacks in water use mandated by the state.

"Investments in highly reliable water supplies, such as our independent water conservation and transfer agreement from the Colorado River, have helped our region avoid the severe consequences of current drought conditions being felt around the state -- but they come at a cost," said Maureen Stapleton, general manager of the authority.

She said the proposed hikes are smaller than the double-digit increases experienced in the last drought.

"With our recommended strategy for next year, we can avoid the kind of rate increases the region experienced from 2009 to 2011 as we continue preparing for the future," Stapleton said.

SDCWA officials said they moderated the rate hike by restructuring $14.3 million in debt and drawing $8 million from a reserve fund.

The proposal will be considered by the water authority Board of Directors one week from today. A public hearing is scheduled for June 25.

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