The San Diego County Water Authority upgraded the All-American Canal in the Imperial Valley to increase water supplies from sources other than the Metropolitan Water District. Photo courtesy water authority

The San Diego County Water Authority plans the smallest rate increase in 15 years as increasing supplies of less-expensive water come on line for 2019.

The water authority’s board last week approved a 0.9 percent increase in the wholesale rate it will charge 24 member agencies, including the City of San Diego, for treated water in 2019.

The authority noted that it’s own supplies from the Colorado River are now less expensive that the water it buys from the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District.

Key factors keeping rates low include lower than forecast demand, increasing delivery of Colorado River water from the Imperial Irrigation District, and lower water transportation costs from the MWD because of a long-running lawsuit.

“Residents and businesses will see the benefits of the water authority’s successful lawsuits against MWD reflected in 2019 rates, along with the fruits of our historic investments in supply reliability,” said Mark Muir, chair of the authority’s board. “Our successful efforts in court saved millions of dollars for the region, and our supply diversification strategy has produced cheaper and more reliable water for the region than we could get through MWD.”

The water authority will charge member agencies the municipal and industrial rate of $1,617 per acre-foot for treated water, or $14 more than in 2018. For the average San Diego County household, that’s an increase of about 62 cents per month.

The charge for an acre-foot of untreated water will be $1,341, or $38 more than in 2018.

Earlier in June, the water authority released a report showing that its $2.4 billion investment in alternative water supplies over the past 20 years is succeeding .

The authority said the investment has reduced its reliance on supplies from the MWD from from 95 percent in 1991 to 40 percent today and a projected 11 percent in 2020.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.