Anthony Corso | Stratford Court
One might conclude that Del Mar’s water and sewer rates will expand based upon the steep price increases for imported water, the development of significant regional water infrastructure to improve water supply reliability, rising costs for energy and a continuing increase in the fixed costs of servicing and improving existing city and state water and sewer systems.
City staff is currently reviewing costs to purchase “raw water” and expenses incurred for the outside treatment and conveyance of imported water, as well as measures to reduce city operating expenses. The City currently spends about $3 million for water service. In September, costs and expenses will be discussed with the City Council followed by a public hearing in the Fall to revise the five year rate plan adopted in 2009.
Every five years, the city must notify all water users of the expected rates for water and sewer. If more than 50% of the users protest the rates an election must be held to validate the rates.
Del Mar imports 100% of its water supply. Of note, water purchases are down 11 % compared to 2009. However, despite conservation and decreased use, there are numerous fixed costs incurred to operate the water system. The operation and maintenance of the City’s water system includes roughly 26 miles of water main pipe, four storage reservoirs, 664 valves and 274 fire hydrants. Moreover, a number of charges are paid each month to the Water District amounting to $33,645. They have risen each year and unfortunately, are forecast to increase again in the next few years.
The City’s price to buy raw water has amplified by more than 100% since 2007, up from $365 per acre-foot to $764 per acre foot starting in January 1, 2015. While city and individuals’ conservation efforts have proven successful, if the drought continues, more restrictions, higher rates and additional regional and state capital improvements programs can be expected.
Long term water efficiency is critical for a semi-arid region such as San Diego. Likewise, even with reduced water use in Del Mar and the region, reinvesting in the local and statewide water and sewer systems is essential for maintaining the safety and reliability of these systems for residents and businesses.
Information provided by Kristen Crane, Assistant to the
Del Mar City Manager