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The Los Angeles Times reports that the Metropolitan Water District, the wholesaler that provides most of the drinking water supply to the San Diego County Water Authority, is considering a significant rate increase — as well as possible water rationing.

The Times says:

Southern California has entered a phase, [Metropolitan General Manager Jeff] Kightlinger said, in which — barring some major fixes and extraordinary conservation by consumers — water will be in short supply 70 percent of the time.

Kightlinger said the MWD will have to raise rates to water customers, such as San Diego and Long Beach, up to 10 percent just to keep up with the cutback of water from Northern California. Cities then typically pass the rate hikes to their businesses and residents — but usually at a higher rate because of other costs, he said.

San Diego’s City Council is holding a public hearing today on a different water rate increase. It’s a pass-through charge from the water authority — the result of an increase in the costs of water delivered by the water authority. The city says the average family will see a monthly increase of $1.40 — about 3 percent.

The Times also details water conservation efforts in Long Beach, which has instituted mandatory guidelines. Local politicians have been divided about conservation. Mayor Jerry Sanders has called for a voluntary 10 percent reduction; City Attorney Mike Aguirre has said a 33 percent mandatory cut is needed.

So far, Long Beach has taken the most radical action locally on water savings. The city’s water board has prohibited residents from watering their grass during the day and limited it to only three times a week. Residents cannot use water hoses to clean driveways, patios, sidewalks or any other paved areas unless they use a pressurized water device.

ROB DAVIS

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