District eyes possible 7.5% water rate hike

By Karen Brainard

Ramona Municipal Water District customers most likely face a water rate increase of at least 7.5 percent, as that is the projected increase from the district’s water supplier, said district General Manager David Barnum.

A recent overview of the water district’s 2012-13 proposed budget showed San Diego County Water Authority (CWA), Ramona’s sole water supplier, estimating an increase ranging from 4.6 percent to 12.2 percent to its member agencies, with 7.5 percent in the middle range. RMWD must pass the water authority’s rate increases on to its customer base, said Barnum.

The general manager said the projected rate increase is “a function of demand and a function of water they (CWA) buy from Metropolitan Water District.” The Los Angeles-based Metropolitan sells water to CWA.

Barnum added that CWA’s rate hike will also be a result of its costs to diversify its water supply.

The water authority has been investing in the region’s water infrastructure to improve the overall reliability of the region’s water supply for emergencies and to rely less on the Met. Such investments have included new dams, reservoirs, pipelines, and pumping facilities.

Water rate increases may also reflect RMWD’s financing of relocating water pipelines along San Vicente Road, said Barnum.

The county’s project to realign and widen a section of San Vicente Road between Warnock Drive and Wildcat Canyon Road requires the district to move waterlines that are in the county right of way. Barnum said the estimated cost is $4 million and the district is looking at multiple financing options.

“We really don’t have any choice,” he said, “but letting the county take the lead will reduce our costs.”

The county is requiring the district to move the pipelines by July 1, 2013.

The next budget workshop is tentatively scheduled for April 24.

   
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