Posts

Initiative Would Allocated Two Percent of State Budget to Water

There have been all kinds of efforts and money allocated to trying to solve California’s water woes. Now an organization states it has the solution — the 2 percent solution.

In what it’s calling the 2 percent solution More Water Now is working to place an initiative on the November 2022 ballot that would require 2 percent of the state budget to be allocated to the state’s water resources. If placed on the ballot and approved the water abundance ballot initiative would set aside 2 percent of the state budget to water.

There has been a great deal of water allocated toward dealing with California’s water issues, which includes a $7.5 billion bond measure that was passed by the state’s voters in 2014. But seven years later that bond has done little to place a dent in dealing with the state’s water woes.

Will Salton Sea Efforts Get Promised $220 Million in California Budget or Not?

Concerned that tens of millions of dollarspromised to help address woes at the Salton Sea could vanish from this year’s state budget, a chorus of Riverside and Imperial County officials this week wrote to Gov. Gavin Newsom and California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot politely demanding that the funding stay on track.

“In May, we joined regional leaders in lauding your decision to include $220 million for the Salton Sea as part of a $5.1 billion dollar ‘California Roars Back’ plan,” wrote the president and vice president of the Salton Sea Authority, a joint powers agency comprising area water districts, both counties and the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians.

Sweetwater Authority Board Approves $68 Million Budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22 and Ensures Customers Water Reliability in the Face of Drought

Chula Vista, Calif. – The Sweetwater Authority Governing Board approved the budget for fiscal year 2021-22 at its June 9, 2021 meeting with a net zero impact to customer rates.

Water Authority Board Adopts $1.7 Billion Two-Year Budget, Approves 2022 Water Rates

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors today adopted a $1.7 billion budget for fiscal years 2022 and 2023 – a 0% change from the current two-year budget – and approved water rates and charges for 2022, following a public hearing.

The all-in rate, which is a blend of fixed and variable rates, will rise by 3.6% for treated water and 3.3% for untreated water in calendar year 2022, due to more rate increases by the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, continued payments for past investments in supply reliability, and inflationary pressures on energy, chemicals, and construction materials. Actual water bills will vary based on customers’ water use, along with factors unique to their local retail water agencies.

County Water Authority Raises Rates by 3.6%

The San Diego County Water Authority said Thursday it has adopted a $1.7 billion budget for the next two fiscal years that will keep its spending steady compared with the current budget.

What the agency calls the “all-in” water rate – which is what it charges customers like the city of San Diego – will rise by 3.6% for treated water and 3.3% for untreated water beginning in January.

San Diego County Water Authority Adopts Budget Including Water Rate Hike

The San Diego County Water Authority said Thursday it has adopted a $1.7 billion budget for the next two fiscal years and will keep its spending steady compared with the current budget.

What the agency calls the “all-in” water rate — which is what it charges customers like the city of San Diego — will rise by 3.6% for treated water and 3.3% for untreated water in calendar year 2022.

San Diego County Water Authority-Budget-Water Rates-Drought

Water Authority Board Adopts $1.7 Billion Two-Year Budget, Approves 2022 Water Rates

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors today adopted a $1.7 billion budget for fiscal years 2022 and 2023 – a 0% change from the current two-year budget – and approved water rates and charges for 2022, following a public hearing.

The all-in rate, which is a blend of fixed and variable rates, will rise by 3.6% for treated water and 3.3% for untreated water in calendar year 2022, due to more rate increases by the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, continued payments for past investments in supply reliability, and inflationary pressures on energy, chemicals, and construction materials. Actual water bills will vary based on customers’ water use, along with factors unique to their local retail water agencies.

“I’m proud of this budget and rates package in an era of unprecedented challenges,” said Water Authority Board Chair Gary Croucher. “We have contained costs while benefitting from strategic investments in water supply reliability that protect the region’s $253 billion economy and 3.3 million residents from statewide drought conditions. This achievement is only possible due to collaboration with our member agencies, strategic guidance from the Board, and the dedication of agency staff.”

More than 90% of the two-year budget is for buying and treating water or building and financing infrastructure. Seven percent of the budget for Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023 funds the Water Authority’s operating departments. The budget increase for those departments is 2%, or $1.9 million, compared to the current two-year budget.

Urban Water Management Plan-2020-San Diego County Water Authority-San Vicente Dam

The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors May 27 approved the Water Authority’s 2020 Urban Water Management Plan highlighting a “water portfolio approach” that ensures reliable water supplies for the region through the 2045 planning horizon – even during multiple dry years. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Key initiatives during next two-year budget cycle

  • Long-term planning – The Water Authority’s Long-Range Financing Plan and the Water Facilities Master Plan will be prioritized. Both are critical documents for projecting the Water Authority’s financial future and providing the Board with flexibility. Phase B of the Regional Conveyance System Study will conclude, and the Board will determine whether to proceed. Another focus is developing water storage capacity in Lake Mead to provide additional drought resilience for San Diego County and other parts of the Colorado River Basin.
  • Controlling costs – The budget includes the elimination of seven staff positions, along with a reduction in outside services and minimizing travel. In addition, equipment replacement was evaluated for deferrals, minimizing the budget impact of day-to-day operations. As always, the budget is partly the function of water sales and water rates, which are both trending upward.
  • Capital improvements – The Water Authority’s Capital Improvement Program is the cornerstone of the agency’s efforts to ensure that regional water delivery and treatment systems continue to meet a variety of ever-changing demands. The agency will move forward on the highest-priority asset management projects, along with detailed seismic, hydraulic and cavitation analysis. Staff also will continue to enhance security systems for physical and cyber assets – a responsibility that grows as potential threats continue to expand.
  • Collaborating with member agencies – Water Authority staff in every department work closely with member agencies to support local efforts, from outreach and advocacy to budget and rate development – and those efforts will continue to be a priority. There are opportunities for collaboration both in joint projects and joint policy issues, such as advocating for local decision-making about drought investments and responses.
  • Communicating with stakeholders – Whether it be in the state Capitol or local chambers of commerce, the Water Authority will continue to share the region’s water story through a full range of engagement tools and creative tactics.

Although the Water Authority’s budget spans two fiscal years, the agency sets rates annually to manage changing conditions more effectively. The Water Authority developed its 2022 water rates in conjunction with an independent cost-of-service study to ensure rates and charges comply with state law, legal requirements, cost-of-service standards, and Board policies.

Drought-Safe, Supply Investments-Carlsbad Desalination Plant-drought

The San Diego region’s diversified water supply portfolio includes highly reliable, locally controlled and drought-proof supplies from the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Collaboration with member agencies

The Water Authority also worked closely with its member agencies to keep the proposed rates and charges at the low end of earlier projections.

In 2022, the Water Authority will charge its 24 member agencies an all-in rate of $1,523 per acre-foot for untreated water, or $49 more per acre-foot than they currently pay. Charges would be $1,833 per acre-foot for treated water, or $64 more per acre-foot than in 2021. (Note: An acre-foot is about 325,900 gallons, enough to serve the annual needs of 2.5 typical four-person households in San Diego County.)

The Water Authority’s overall rate increase is driven by multiple factors, including rising costs from its wholesale water provider, MWD. MWD increased its rates, including the amount it charges to transport the Water Authority’s lowest cost regional supply – high-priority, independent supplies from the Colorado River. Overall, MWD’s rates and charges for the Water Authority in 2022 will increase 3.9%.

Drought-Safe San Diego-San Vicente Reservoir-Drought-Water Supply Portfolio

The San Diego County Water Authority said June 21, that the region is protected from drought impacts this summer, and through 2045, despite continued hot and dry conditions. Photo: San Vicente Reservoir/San Diego County Water Authority

Strategic management

The water rates for calendar year 2022 include strategic withdrawals from the Rate Stabilization Fund. To reduce 2022 rate increases by approximately $65 per acre-foot, the Water Authority plans to draw $25 million from the agency’s Rate Stabilization Fund. The fund was created in 1990 to help avoid rate spikes, especially those driven by reduced water sales. The rate proposal also includes strategic management of the Water Authority debt portfolio resulting in $130 million in net present value savings from several refundings.

The 2022 rates ensure debt-coverage ratios that maintain the Water Authority’s strong credit ratings and minimize the cost of borrowing money for construction projects, an approach that saves ratepayers money over the long run. The Water Authority has senior lien credit ratings of AAA from Standard & Poor’s, AA+ from Fitch ratings and Aa2 from Moody’s.

For more information about the Water Authority’s 2022 and 2023 budget, and 2022 rates, go to pages 58 and 69 in the June Board packet.

Board Adopts $1.7 Billion Two-Year Budget, Approves 2022 Water Rates

June 24, 2021 – The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors today adopted a $1.7 billion budget for fiscal years 2022 and 2023 – a 0% change from the current two-year budget – and approved water rates and charges for 2022, following a public hearing.

The all-in rate, which is a blend of fixed and variable rates, will rise by 3.6% for treated water and 3.3% for untreated water in calendar year 2022, due to more rate increases by the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, continued payments for past investments in supply reliability, and inflationary pressures on energy, chemicals, and construction materials. Actual water bills will vary based on customers’ water use, along with factors unique to their local retail water agencies.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

OMWD’s “AAA” Bond Rating Reaffirmed as Board Reduces Budget by 2.67 Percent

Encinitas, Calif. — At its meeting this evening, Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors approved budget cuts following confirmation of OMWD’s exceptionally strong financial profile. The board was notified that Fitch Ratings, a global rating agency that offers independent credit opinions, has reaffirmed OMWD’s “AAA” bond rating with a stable outlook, the highest possible rating assigned by Fitch. The board also approved a revised budget for Fiscal Years 2021 and 2022 that saves over $1 million versus the originally approved budget.

Gary Croucher-Board Chair-San Diego County Water Authority-Primary

Controlling the Budget and Water Rates in a Challenging Era

As we head into summer, we look forward to the continued retreat of COVID-19 and a full return to baseball games, barbeques, and graduation celebrations.

We also take a moment to remember that those things we cherish about San Diego County are all based on a reliable supply of water. It is the foundation of everything we do in our semi-arid climate. That’s why I’m so pleased to report that we have reliable supplies through at least 2045, even during multiple dry years like this one. That assurance was part of the 2020 Urban Water Management Plan that the Water Authority Board of Directors recently approved.

Water supply reliability

The Board is also considering the proposed 2022 water rates, along with the budget for fiscal years 2022 and 2023 – a challenging task to say the least. The proposed two-year budget is $1.7 billion, a 0% change from the current two-year budget due to our continuing commitment to cost control. As usual, more than 90% of the recommended budget is for buying and treating water or building and financing infrastructure. This reflects our long-term strategy to invest in supply reliability to meet current and future needs of the San Diego region – a strategy that is paying significant dividends during the current drought hitting most of California.

Water Authority staff also proposed increasing rates and charges for member agencies by 3.6% for treated water and 3.3% for untreated water in calendar year 2022, attributable to more rate increases by the Metropolitan Water District, continued payments for past investments in supply reliability, and inflationary pressures on energy, chemicals, and construction materials.

Rigorous review of budget and water rates

Each budget and rates package undergoes a rigorous review process, as we steward ratepayer funds to ensure continued water supply reliability in support of our $253 billion economy and quality of life. This year’s budget process started in fall 2020 with internal analyses, and it continued with meetings with our retail member agencies over the past several months. The process continued this week with the Board holding a third budget workshop. We expect to vote on the budget and rates package, following any revisions, on June 24.

A final note: I thought you might be interested in this letter that I recently sent to Gov. Newsom to share my appreciation for his leadership navigating the complexities of the current drought and outlining some of our key policy principles. It’s gratifying that the governor has avoided the kind of one-size-fits-all regulations we faced in the last drought – and I encouraged him to stay the course with regards to letting local leaders determine the appropriate response for their areas.

Urban Water Management Plan-2020-San Diego County Water Authority-San Vicente Dam

The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors May 27 approved the Water Authority’s 2020 Urban Water Management Plan highlighting a “water portfolio approach” that ensures reliable water supplies for the region through the 2045 planning horizon – even during multiple dry years. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority