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Drinking water is getting more expensive. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Metropolitan Water District is planning to increase water rates by 14 percent in 2009.

MWD supplies water to the San Diego County Water Authority, which then delivers to the city of San Diego and other local water districts. The rate increase would be passed through to customers in San Diego and those other districts.

The Times says:

Although the cities and districts would then determine how much more residents would pay, MWD officials estimated that the hike would add about $1.50 to monthly bills for an average household, varying widely from city to city.

If the increase is approved by a panel of the MWD board today and the full board Tuesday, it would take effect Jan. 1. Rates could rise again by 6 percent to 12 percent in 2010 and 5 percent to 10 percent in 2011, said Brian G. Thomas, chief financial officer and assistant general manager.

“Our rates have not been sufficient — and will not be sufficient even with this increase — to cover our expected costs,” Thomas said. …

Each city served by the MWD, including Los Angeles, Long Beach, Anaheim, San Diego and Santa Monica, would determine how the increase would be reflected in customer bills. Santa Monica, San Diego and other cities that depend heavily on MWD water could be hardest hit.

Some areas have worked to develop their own local sources of water. Orange County, for example, recently opened a $487 million project to use recycled sewage to fill groundwater reservoirs. San Diego is working on a pilot study of that concept, derisively called “toilet-to-tap”.

ROB DAVIS

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