Higher Water Costs Will Inevitably Trickle Down to Ratepayers


Here’s why your water bill will go up and why there’s little anyone can do about it:

We here in San Diego County are at the mercy of the county Water Authority, which is in turn at the mercy of the huge Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Met buys water from Northern California and the Colorado River, and in turn sells it to the County Water Authority, which in turns sells it to your local water agency.

In my case, that would be Padre Dam, but all of you have more or less the same problem: being at the absolute end of the very long, and very fragile, pipelines.

Met, though, has a big problem.

It isn’t selling nearly as much water as it used to, primarily because we, the end users, have been so good at conservation over the past couple of years.

As I mentioned last time, Met’s sales dropped 32 percent last year, while their rates went up 55 percent.

Therefore, in order to pay its bills, Met has had to try raising rates to its member agencies. All 26 of them.

Why does this affect our water authority, and us?

Because San Diego’s Water Authority is by far Met’s biggest single customer, buying 25 percent of the water Met sells.

Met, it seems, also has a temper.

They got very upset when the Water Authority went off on its own, trying to develop independent sources of water, and made a deal with the Imperial Irrigation District to help line the old All-American canal that brings water to the El Centro area, and in turn be able to buy thousands of acre feet of Imperial’s water for us.

According to the Water Authority, Met decided to charge San Diego outrageous amounts of money to transport that Colorado River water to San Diego’s custody and control. Met could do that because Met owns the canals and pipelines that get the water over our way.

So, the Water Authority has sued Met, claiming that it’s overcharging us by about $31 million this year, and $230 million over the next decade.

You know what they say—a million here, a million there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

And it’s not just the Colorado River water we’re talking about. The Water Authority also claims that Met is charging way more than state law allows for the water it transports to us from Northern California.

The case is being handled, and will be heard, in San Francisco Superior Court.

Whoever wins, there will be appeals. Many appeals.

We, the people who turn on our faucets and expect reasonably priced water to come out, are the ones who will have to bear the burden of increasingly expensive water.

At Padre Dam, every drop of water the District buys is imported, we have no independent sources of our own. Every District has that problem to some degree.

Everyone has the same problem in a way. The County Water Authority has to support and maintain its pipelines and canals that get water to its member agencies, and the member agencies have to support and maintain thier facilities to get that water to our taps.

You will hopefully pardon the play on words, but it all trickles down to us, the ratepayers.

The Water Authority is cutting costs as much as possible, and the member agencies say they are doing the same thing.

We have to have water to live.

We’ll have that water, but it won’t be cheap.

It will never be cheap again.