The Colorado River Aqueduct brings water to Los Angeles and San Diego. Courtesy Metropolitan Water District

San Diego County Water Authority staff have proposed a 4.3 percent increase in the cost of treated water in 2020, citing cost increases and continued investment in local supplies.

Authority staff said the increase is driven by higher costs for water supplied and transported by the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District, as well as increasing maintenance costs for reservoirs at Lake Hodges and San Vicente, and spending for upgrades to the desalination plant in Carlsbad.

“Thanks to prudent financial planning and debt management, we are able to keep the proposed rates at the low end of our projections,” said Lisa Marie Harris, finance director for the water authority. “We’ve worked hard to control rate increases while maintaining a complex water production, treatment and delivery system that will continue to support the region’s economy and quality of life for generations.”

For 2020, under the staff proposal, the authority would charge its 24 member agencies an all-in rate of $1,406 per acre-foot for untreated water, or $65 more than they currently pay. Charges would be $1,686 per acre-foot for treated water, or $69 more than in 2019.

The agency said the total amount of the rate increase was reduced by tapping its rate stabilization fund.

The authority’s directors are scheduled to vote on rates for next year at their regular meeting on June 27, following budget workshops on June 11 and 13.

Directors will also be asked to approve a two-year budget, covering 2020 and 2021, of $1.7 billion, which is a 5% increase. Although the authority’s budget spans two years, the agency sets rates annually to more effectively manage changing conditions.

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Chris Jennewein

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