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A San Diego City Council subcommittee will begin the process of raising residents’ water rates today.

The average household will see their bi-monthly bill increase from $122 to $131. If approved, the 7 percent increase will go into effect Jan. 1, 2010.

The rate hike stems from an increase being passed down by the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District, the wholesaler that provides most of the region’s water.

The increase is likely to be approved. The Water Department estimates that not doing so would cost the department $24 million annually. And the department’s budget is separate from the city’s general fund — it is solely derived from the money it collects from water bills. It doesn’t have any other way to recoup the money except through rate increases or budget cuts.

ROB DAVIS

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