This is why water prices fluctuate a lot in San Diego County


The price of water has over final 20 years risen dramatically throughout San Diego County because of investments in desalination, ongoing upkeep, ever-increasing power costs and unprecedented conservation.

Nevertheless, not everybody’s feeling these impacts equally.

Charges differ significantly among the many area’s two dozen native water businesses, in keeping with an evaluation finished final yr by the Otay Water District. For instance, a typical 1,100 cubic ft of water prices about $90 a month within the metropolis of San Diego, in comparison with almost $137 within the Padre Dam Municipal Water District.

For some, greater charges aren’t any massive deal. Extra prosperous customers can usually simply in the reduction of on watering lawns and showering to degree off their payments. For low-income residents, lots of whom are already utilizing the naked minimal, sharp will increase can actually sting.

To search out out what’s behind these massive variations, I lately reached out to Kyle Swanson, CEO and common supervisor for Padre Dam Municipal Water District. His company — which providers a big swath of East County from El Cajon, Santee and Lakeside to Crest, Dehesa and Alpine — presently has the best charges within the area.

He mentioned his district’s comparatively excessive water payments are largely a perform of two issues: an entire reliance on imported water and rural topography — components that seem to influence lots of the area’s most costly businesses.

Extra city suppliers, such because the cities of San Diego, Carlsbad and Oceanside, profit from an economic system of scale in terms of constructing and working pipelines, dams and different infrastructure, Swanson mentioned. His district, alternatively, will not be solely unfold out however contains considerably steep terrain.

The company should pay important electrical prices associated to transferring water from Santee, which is about 300 ft above sea degree, to components of Alpine, which attain almost 2,700 ft, he mentioned. “Lifting water is extraordinarily costly. Extra pump stations are essential, extra intermediate reservoirs.”

Rainbow Municipal Water District Normal Supervisor Tom Kennedy put it this fashion: “You possibly can give it some thought as what number of prospects per mile of pipeline. Folks in rural areas don’t wish to dwell round 50,000 folks, so it’s a selection.”

And whereas some water businesses have entry to low cost groundwater and floor flows, others, equivalent to Padre and Rainbow, are utterly reliant on importing provides from the area’s wholesaler, the San Diego County Water Authority.

That water — which is piped in from the Colorado River and to a lesser extent the State Water Undertaking — isn’t low cost. Not solely does it price quite a bit to maneuver these flows from the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada, however the water authority has been pressured to increase its charges in recent times as aggressive conservation has restricted essential income for a lot of fastened prices.

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