Pure Water San Diego demonstration plant
The Pure Water San Diego demonstration plant in Miramar. Courtesy of the city

The San Diego Public Utilities Department said Thursday it will seek rate hikes of 2% for drinking water and 5% for wastewater disposal starting in January 2022.

The increase in water rates represents a pass-through of higher costs from the San Diego County Water Authority, while the wastewater rate increase would be the first in 10 years as the city works to replace aging pipes and fund the Pure Water recycling project.   

“The proposed rate increases come at a critical time for the city of San Diego with Pure Water’s promise on the horizon and the need to fix our aging pipes and mains so we can continue to provide reliable wastewater collection and treatment,” said Shauna Lorance, director of the utilities department.

“We know many San Diegans are struggling financially due to the pandemic, so we tried to minimize the impact as much as possible with this plan, knowing that our rising costs are forcing us to propose increases in order to deliver the high-quality services San Diegans expect,” she said.

Lorance said that over the long term, the Pure Water program will save residents money because the city will no longer need to pay for costly upgrades to the aging treatment plant in Point Loma.

The project aims to provide a third of the city’s drinking water by 2035 using advanced recycling technology that has been tested at a demonstration plant in Miramar. Construction of a full-scale plant began late last year.

The proposed rate increases will be presented to the City Council’s Budget and Government Efficiency Committee on April 7. A full council vote is anticipated in mid-September. 

The Public Utilities Department serves over 2.2 million customers and maintains more than 3,400 miles of water pipelines and 3,000 miles of sewer mains. 

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Chris Jennewein

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