On January 10, 2018, the Rainbow MWD Board of Directors set a date for a public hearing to consider the adoption of an ordinance that will raise water and sewer rates in March 2018 and in subsequent years through 2022. The proposed increases in water and sewer rates are based on a lengthy and careful review of internal and external cost drivers that affect the District. The ratepayer-led Budget and Finance Committee spent over six months reviewing possible options and recommended to the Board a package of rate changes that apportioned the increased costs as fairly and equitably as possible.
There are two main drivers to the water rate increases. Since about 70% of total operating cost of the District is the cost of obtaining water from the San Diego County Water Authority, cost increases for water supply are a significant component of the rate increases. In addition to these cost increases, the District has embarked a comprehensive Condition Assessment Program. Our Engineering Services Committee, also comprised of ratepayers, has worked with RWMD staff and consultants to identify a way to deal with our rapidly aging infrastructure. As our newsletters have described over the last several months, portions of our system are reaching a point where the break rate is increasing and need to be rehabilitated or replaced in order to ensure the level of service all of our customers expect.
A significant portion of the rate increase is to fund the capital improvement program to deal with pipeline rehabilitation and replacement. Funds for this program will be ramped up over a five-year span and then continue indefinitely. While this program will end up costing all ratepayers a bit more over time, it is essential to maintain the system in proper working order for day to day use, and as we saw in December, for those times where the water system is critical to protecting lives and property during wildfires.
The charts, graphs, and PDF below highlight how these rate changes will affect different customer classes and different meter sizes. If you find your customer class you can see how different levels of consumption will have different bill impacts. Most impacts range from 1%-4% in the bill, so the impacts are not severe.
For sewer rates, we are changing how the rates are calculated a bit. In the past, we used the lowest winter water consumption to set sewer rates. When we reviewed this data, we found that there was not a strong correlation between our costs to provide service and the lowest winter water consumption. It turns out that low winter consumption is based more on weather than the cost to provide sewer service. In the revised structure, for residential use there is a flat fee per home, or equivalent dwelling unit (EDU). On average, our residential customers will see a reduction in their bill, but there will be some customers whose bills will increase. Commercial customers will see an increase in their bills as our review indicated that the cost to serve commercial customers, especially restaurants, as higher than our previous rates were collecting.
All property owners and customers have been sent a notice by mail with information about the rates and how you can attend the meeting or send in a protest of the rate change by mail. Under State law, all affected persons can protest the rate change and if enough (>50%) submit written protests it will block the change. Please see the notice sent by mail for additional information or contact our office at 760-728-1178.
Below are the charts showing different consumption scenarios based on customer class and meter size as guidance.Rainbow MWD Wastewater Cost of Service Report.pdfRainbow Municipal Water District Financial Plan and Rate Study Report.pdfProposed Water and Sewer Rate, Graphs and Data in PDF to download