SDWD water rates to jump in July


On tap for most residents next month: higher water bills.

The San Dieguito Water District board recently approved a 4.5 percent increase that will take effect July 1. But the board could have raised rates even more.

This past August, the board backed a double rate hike. The first increase raised rates 8.1 percent last September for the average customer. At its May 21 meeting, the board had the option of hiking rates an additional 8.5 percent.

Last summer, district staff recommended leaving the door open for up to an 8.5 percent increase largely because of rising imported water prices, according to Jeff Umbrasas, administrative services manager with the water district.

Also, staff members at that time stated the district needs more money to pay down a 10-year capital improvement plan. This includes upgrading the Badger Filtration Plant to reduce the district’s reliance on expensive imported water.

However, it became apparent recently that these costs aren’t as high as originally anticipated, said Umbrasas. Also, the district forecasts $200,000 in savings from refinancing a 2004 water bond.

So district staff felt comfortable suggesting the 4.5 percent increase at the May 21 meeting.

“Our budgets tend to be conservative,” Umbrasas said. “Our outlook improved as the year went on.”

The Encinitas City Council, which acts as the San Dieguito Water District board, unanimously agreed to the recommended increase at its May 21 meeting.

Average water district customers pay $62.90 per month. Factoring in the new rate, that total will rise to $65.73, according to Umbrasas.

The 4.5 percent increase is expected to bring in $586,500 annually for the district.

The San Dieguito Water District covers 38,000 customers in the western part of Encinitas. The Olivenhain Municipal Water District serves the city’s eastern portion.