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Encinitas Will Pay for Native Plant Demonstration Gardens

Encinitas will fund the construction of native plant demonstration gardens in the coming fiscal year, but it won’t pay for a consultant to produce a city ordinance spelling out how native plants should be used generally.

County Water Authority Approves 9.5% Rate Hike to Ensure ‘Reliability of Supply’

The San Diego County Water Authority board approved a 9.5% increase in wholesale water rates for its member agencies in 2024, citing the need to fund critical water supply projects.

The authority’s $1.85 billion budget for the next two years includes capital projects considered “critical for maintaining safe and reliable water supplies” in the event California returns to drought.

The impact of the wholesale rate increase on residential rates will vary based on the amount of water used by each of the 24 member agencies in the county, as well as individual usage by customers.

“The board and staff have worked tirelessly for months to minimize rate increases while supporting the reliability of our water supply,” said Board Chair Mel Katz. “Despite cost increases created by extraordinary inflation and depressed water sales, we have a budget that allows the water authority to do what it does best — provide the water that sustains our economy and quality of life.”

Officials blamed the lower water sales on an exceptionally wet and cool winter following years of drought.

San Diego County Water Authority And its 24 Member Agencies

Water Authority Board Approves 2024 Wholesale Rates After Public Hearing

The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors today approved wholesale water rates for 2024 following a public hearing and approved the recommended budget for the next two fiscal years. The budget and rates support continued work on numerous agency priorities, including capital projects critical for maintaining safe and reliable water supplies.

“The Board and staff have worked tirelessly for months to minimize rate increases while supporting the reliability of our water supply,” said Water Authority Board Chair Mel Katz. “Despite cost increases created by extraordinary inflation and depressed water sales, we have a budget that allows the Water Authority to do what it does best – provide the water that sustains our economy and quality of life.”

The Board approved increasing wholesale water costs for its 24 retail member agencies by 9.5%. Actual rate impacts will vary by agency based on their use of the Water Authority’s system and actual water purchases. Water rates paid by residents and businesses will also vary based on factors unique to each retail agency.

Budget and rates

The budget and rates package was the most challenging in decades due to extreme inflation over the past year and depressed water sales due to cool and wet weather. Against that backdrop, the Board prioritized immediate ratepayer relief with a planned withdrawal of nearly $30 million from the Rate Stabilization Fund, which would bring the fund to its lowest level in more than a decade. The Rate Stabilization Fund was created in 1990 to help avoid rate spikes, especially those driven by reduced water sales following abnormally wet weather or mandatory cutbacks.

The Board also approved the staff recommended $1.85 billion budget for fiscal years 2024 and 2025, an increase of 5% from the current two-year budget due to higher costs for water, treatment and infrastructure maintenance. The budget prioritizes the following initiatives:

  • Long-term planning
  • Capital projects
  • Engaging stakeholders
  • System and asset management
  • Fiscal responsibility and cost control

Approximately 90% of the Water Authority’s recommended budget is for buying and treating and delivering water, combined with debt service and infrastructure projects to ensure water is available when and where it’s needed. As in past years, the Water Authority’s Operating Departments – including all agency staff and day-to-day work functions – account for about 7% of the budget. The approved budget for fiscal years 2024 and 2025 increases spending by those departments by 1%, or $1.5 million, compared to the current two-year budget.

Public water agencies do not make a profit; all revenues are invested in protecting and providing safe and reliable water.

Water Authority Board Approves 2024 Wholesale Rates After Public Hearing

The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors today approved wholesale water rates for 2024 following a public hearing and approved the recommended budget for the next two fiscal years. The budget and rates support continued work on numerous agency priorities, including capital projects critical for maintaining safe and reliable water supplies.

Amid ‘Challenging Budget,’ County Water Authority Sets Public Hearing on 2024 Rates

Amid a “challenging budget cycle,” the San Diego County Water Authority board announced plans for a public hearing on June 22 regarding proposed wholesale water rates for 2024, followed by official votes on final rates.

Newsom Unveils Sweeping Plan to Speed Up California Infrastructure Projects

Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to unveil a sweeping package of legislation and sign an executive order Friday to make it easier to build transportation, clean energy, water and other infrastructure across California, a move intended to capitalize on an infusion of money from the Biden administration to boost climate-friendly construction projects.

Water Authority Seeks Public Input on 2024 Rate Increase and Two-Year Budget

The San Diego County Water Authority has asked for public input over the next two months as it drafts a new two-year budget and sets rates to cover the cost of water-reliability projects that keep San Diego immune from drought.

Agency staff has recommended a $1.85 billion budget for the two-year period beginning July 1, 2023, and ending June 30, 2025.

That represents a 5% increase, but the 2024 rate increase is tentatively set at 14%, though efforts are underway to lower that.

Helix Water District Logo Square officers for 2021

Helix Recognized for Excellence in Financial Reporting

La Mesa, Calif. – The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA)  announced today that Helix Water District is the recipient of a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for our fiscal year 2022-23 budget document.

“This award shows the commitment by the district’s board of directors and staff to serving the public with integrity, fiscal accountability, and transparency.” Said Kathleen Hedberg, Helix Water District’s Board President. “Our budget is well organized and easy to read. We want customers to easily see what we are doing, how we are efficient, and how we keep our operating costs steady.”

Olivenhain Dam and Reservoir 2023 rates

Water Authority Proposes 2023 Rates and Charges for Member Agencies

The San Diego County Water Authority is taking strategic steps to minimize 2023 rate increases for its 24 member agencies and their customers while ensuring a safe, reliable, and affordable water supply as drought grips California for a third consecutive year.

FY 22&23 Adopted Budget ($1.7 million). Graphic: San Diego County Water Authority

FY 22&23 Adopted Budget ($1.7 million). Graphic: San Diego County Water Authority

Water Authority staff proposed increasing 2023 rates and charges for member agencies by 5.2% for treated water and 3.7% for untreated water. The increases are attributable to historically high inflation, significant energy cost increases from SDG&E, and continued cost increases by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

The rate proposal for 2023 includes strategic withdrawals from the Water Authority’s Rate Stabilization Fund, which was created in 1990 to help avoid rate spikes, especially those driven by reduced water sales. To reduce 2023 rate increases by approximately $39 per acre-foot, the Water Authority plans to draw $14.2 million from that fund.

Public comment

The Water Authority Board is expected to vote on rates for next year at its regular meeting on June 23, following a public hearing. The public is invited to comment on the proposed rates and charges. Public comment may be submitted by either of these two methods:

Before the meeting, or before the public comment closes at the meeting, submit your telephone number by e-mail to the clerk at and the clerk will call you when the Board is ready to hear your public comment (three minutes or less); OR

Before the meeting, or before public comment closes at the meeting, email your comment to the Water Authority General Counsel at , and time allowing, it may be read aloud at the public comment period (three-minute limit).

If modifications or accommodations from individuals with disabilities are required, such persons should provide a request at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting by e-mail to the Water Authority General Counsel at

(Note: Per Governor Newsom’s executive orders and state legislation, the June 23 San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors Meeting will not be held in person, but electronically. The public may access the meeting electronically by going to this web link: https://www.sdcwa.org/meetings-and-documents and then clicking the link listed below “Live Stream” on the right hand side of the page).

Focus on maintaining lowest possible 2023 rates

Desal plant-5th anniversary-Carlsbad-construction

The Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant under construction in December 2013 reflects a significant commitment to water supply diversification. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

“We recognize inflationary pressures are challenging for many residents, and we are working collaboratively with all levels of government to identify, advocate for, and improve water affordability,” said Water Authority General Manager Sandra L. Kerl. “As our rate-setting process moves forward, we will remain focused on maintaining the lowest possible rates while delivering a safe and reliable water supply during the driest period in more than 1,200 years.”

The Water Authority’s commitment to affordability includes securing $25 million from the State of California to pay water bills for San Diego County residents impacted by COVID-19; securing $80 million through advocacy efforts in 2021 and distributing that money to member agencies; avoiding hundreds of millions in future costs on water deliveries; and maintaining strong credit ratings that reduce the cost of debt.

In 2023, the Water Authority proposes charging its 24 member agencies the equivalent to an all-in rate of $1,579 per acre-foot for untreated water, or $56 more per acre-foot than they currently pay. Charges would be $1,929 per acre-foot for treated water, or $96 more per acre-foot than in 2022. (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).

Actual figures will vary by member agency, and each member agency will incorporate costs from the Water Authority into the retail rates it charges to residents, businesses, and institutions.

Rising costs for treatment, supplies, and energy

Water Facilities Master Plan Update-Infrastructure-Planning 2023 rates

A major rehabilitation project on the region’s historic First Aqueduct was completed in North San Diego County in January 2021. The Water Authority will continue to lead in preparing for an uncertain future by improving existing infrastructure with resiliency and flexibility at top of mind. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

The Water Authority’s overall rate increase is driven by multiple factors, such as rising costs for its water supplies, including increases in water treatment (driven by energy costs), conserved water supplies driven by inflation, and continued increases from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, including a 7% increase for untreated supplies.

Each year, the Water Authority’s rate proposal is developed 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. For 2023, an additional third-party consultant hired to perform a cost-of-service review again affirmed the Water Authority’s process. Throughout the six-month rate-setting process, the Water Authority worked closely with its member agencies to keep the proposed rates and charges at the low end of earlier projections.

“Despite the current inflationary environment and the challenges of the pandemic, our strategic financial planning and management of debt allows us to keep the proposed rates at the low end of our projections,” said Water Authority Finance Director Lisa Marie Harris. “We continue to control rates while maintaining a complex water production, treatment, and delivery system that supports the region now and for decades to come.”

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 2023 rate proposal ensures debt-coverage ratios that maintain the Water Authority’s strong credit ratings and minimize the cost of borrowing money for construction projects. This approach 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 proposed 2023 rates, go to the May Board packet starting on page 215.

SWA Governing Board Approves $72.7M Budget For Fiscal Year 2022-23

Chula Vista, Calif. – The Sweetwater Authority (Authority) Governing Board approved the $72.7M budget for fiscal year (FY) 2022-23 at its June 8, 2022 meeting.

The FY 2022-23 Budget provides a balanced approach to maintaining the Authority’s financial condition. The Authority’s volumetric, or commodity rate used to fund operations, will increase by an inflationary index and will be offset by use of reserve funds to minimize the impact to rate payers.