Dozens of San Diegans are howling over soaring water bills, complaining on social media and to the city. In response, Mayor Kevin Faulconer has promised every complaint will be reviewed and independent City Auditor Eduardo Luna has promised to conclude that review by June. City utilities officials have a range of explanations for the spikes, starting with meter-reading errors, higher usage because of warmer weather, leaks in water systems and homes, a 6.9 percent rate increase that took effect Aug. 1, and a change that led to one bill covering more days.
Archive for date: February 2nd, 2018
You are now in San Diego County category.
It sounds like something out of a Kafka novel. You get an inexplicable bill from a government agency for thousands of dollars and no manner of protest or pleading will reverse it. Instead, you’re told by the bureaucracy to pony up the money or face losing access to an essential resource — water. That’s the situation being described by residents across the city of San Diego who say the Public Utilities Department is charging them for water they didn’t use.
Citing the need for more deliberation, California regulators delayed publication of a report that will outline their preferred plan to fund and manage a statewide program to help poor residents pay their water bills. As water rates increase in the United States, governments and utilities are exploring new forms of financial aid. Some utilities run water bill assistance programs, but California is marking unexplored territory. It would be the first state in the nation to operate a state-funded program for water.
The dry times are back. Drought has returned with a vengeance across much of the United States, with the worst conditions across southern and western parts of the nation. As of Thursday, 38.4% of the continental U.S. is in a drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. That is the highest percentage since the 40% recorded in May 2014.
The torrential rains that ripped through the state earlier the state earlier this year and created the destructive and deadly mudslides in Montecito may make California’s drought seem like ancient history. But much of California has, in reality, suffered through an unusually hot — and somewhat dry — winter. A heat wave baked Southern California this week, breaking temperature records across the region. And officials say it has been warm in Northern California, too, causing much of the area’s precipitation to fall as rain instead of snow.
It’s a tantalizing pot of money, $2.7 billion for new dams and reservoirs approved by California voters during the worst of the drought. But is the state willing to spend it? The California Water Commission, the obscure state agency in charge of allocating the money, stunned the California water world recently by giving a decidedly lukewarm response to the 11 applications it received for funding. Farm irrigation districts and municipal water agencies applying for the money fear that the commission has raised the bar so high that few if any reservoir projects will qualify for the dollars.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on Thursday that California public schools built before 2010 must test for lead in drinking water. Last year, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 746, which requires community water systems statewide to complete lead testing in these older schools by July 1, 2019. “Students need fresh water, nutritious meals, and regular physical activity to be ready to learn and succeed in class,” Torlakson said. “Cooperation with local water systems is critical to ensure proper testing.”
Much of Southern California is once again in a drought and there is little relief in sight, a report by the United States Drought Monitor revealed. About 44 percent of California was in drought Thursday, up from 12 percent last week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor report. As of this week, all of San Diego County and most of Los Angeles County has been elevated from an “abnormally dry” category to a “moderate drought” category.