On January 22, 2019, the Rainbow MWD Board of Directors set a date for a public hearing for March 26, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. to consider the adoption of an ordinance that will raise water in April 2019. The proposed increases in water rates are based on a lengthy and careful review of internal and external cost drivers that affect the District. Sewer Rates will not be changed at this time. The ratepayer-led Budget and Finance Committee spent over four 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 implemented 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 2017, 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.
Each water customer is unique, so how a change in rates affects you may be different than another seemingly similar customer. These variables depend on your customer class, your meter size, as well as your consumption patterns. In general, customers with small meters and low consumption are affected by fixed charges more than the commodity rates where customers who use a lot of water are impacted by the variable rates. It is impossible for us to describe every scenario in this notice, but we have some charts on our website that show how these changes affect various types of customers and meter sizes at different levels of consumption. We know that these notices can be difficult to read and confusing at times so these charts should help you understand how this will impact you.
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. A link to this notice is included below. 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 rate notice sent by mail and included on the link below for additional information or contact our office at 760-728-1178.Rainbow MWD - 2018 Wastewater Cost of Service ReportRainbow MWD - 2018 Water Rate Study Report Prop 218 Hearing NoticeRate Hearing Presentation March 26, 2019
Below are a few charts showing several different consumption scenarios based on customer class and meter size as guidance.