No Water Rate Hike! It Was Nice While It Lasted

OK, water rates are now said to be rising slightly- blame the usual "trickle down" costs.

Remember just last week, when the ’s board of directors to charge lower rates for the water we pay for and said our bills would remain about the same?

Never mind.

Beginning in January 2012, your monthly water bill is going up- probably about 4 percent over what you pay now.

The reason is simple, if you follow along here.

The , from which we get our water, is raising its rates to local agencies like Padre Dam 7.7 percent, because the is raising ITS rates to SDCWA by 7.5 per cent.

I hate the phrase “trickle down,” but it’s the best I can think of to describe what’s going to happen.

Fully 40 to 50 per cent of your Padre Dam bill is what the call “pass through” billing. In other words, Padre Dam is passing on to us what it has to pay the County Water Authority for our water.

SDCWA is “passing through” the rates it has to pay to SDCWA.

It’s the picture of water that has pretty much always existed in Southern California, and there’s little or nothing we can do about it.

The remaining money we’re ultimately asked to pay is for the things that get our water to us.

The pipelines, the canals, the pump stations, the reservoirs- building and then maintaining all that costs a hideous amount of money.

I’ve already gotten several irate e-mails from people asking me why Padre Dam can’t just eat the cost, rather than have to pass it on.

They say the City of San Diego is going to do that- why can’t Padre Dam?

There’s a very simple answer to that question.

San Diego has several of its own reservoirs- reservoirs that are full nearly to overflowing with water from the abundant winter rains last year.

San Diego can and will use that water to keep the costs to ratepayers down, since not a drop of that has to be brought in from Northern California or the Colorado River.

Padre Dam, and most other local agencies, don’t have that luxury.

Every drop of potable water Padre Dam provides to us at the tap has to come from the County Water Authority- we have NO potable sources of our own-not a drop.

Nobody much likes all this- but there’s not really a way around it.

Unless we empower Padre Dam to start building its own reservoirs and canals and pipelines to northern California and the Colorado river.

Trust me, you don’t want to go there.

You think the bills are too high now?


sluggo June 28, 2011 at 12:46 AM
How about empowering Padre Dam to figure out it's customers aren't a limitless piggy bank? How about doing a no-kidding comparison of the rates San Diegans are paying vs. Santee residents? Include all the extras the Pirates of Padre tack on, and their cleverly cryptic 'tiered rate' scheme, a gimmick Wall Street would be proud of. Come one, Doug! Give us some real facts. Skewer the sacred cow that is Padre Dam. It's a joke, but it hurts too much to laugh.
Jen June 28, 2011 at 01:11 AM
I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this. Isn't Padre Dam the same company that charges a minimum of $4/vehicle that enters Santee Lakes - more for larger vehicles? They charge you for fishing permits... for renting picnic areas... for renting paddle boats or canoes... for the campsites. What is the revenue they generate from Santee Lakes on a daily basis? Not to mention the charges on my water bill... system charge... sewer charge... water charges (of course). With their customer base, I can not believe that they are not generating enough revenue to offset at least a portion of the cost from SDCWA. What is the benefit of the solar panels they had installed at Santee Lakes at the RV storage? What cost did that offset? How about their new administrative building? The new entrance? The water conservation garden? Are PD customers currently paying for that as well? Maybe if times weren't so tough a 4% increase wouldn't seem so high. But right now, when people are losing their homes... the MWD needs to suck it up because ultimately they're going to lose a lot more customers.
Doug Curlee June 29, 2011 at 12:29 AM
jen.. couple of thimgs come to mind.. losing customers?..where else are you gonna go for your water? they are NOT generating thnat much revenue. because we were so good at conserving water, padre dam's water sales are way down..just as are every other water district in southern california..but there are fixed costr that still must be paid every month.. could they cut more?..sure, and they will..but sooner or later, they're gonna reach the point where it's impossible to cut anyo0ne else and still keep the dcoors open and the water flowing to the taps..just as will every other water district in southern california.. with regard to santee lakes..you are aware, i take it, that santee lakes is a separate operation from padre dam MWD..it's run by a foundation, and IT MUST SUPPORT ITSELF. NO ratepayer money goes into that..whatever is done, or built there has to be paid for by whatever is taken in at the lakes.. doug
Jen June 29, 2011 at 08:47 PM
Hi Doug, Santee is not the only place that people can live, MWD does not supply water to absolutely everyone who needs water. People who are losing their homes or looking for a more appealing cost of living are moving - perhaps out of state, out of the county, or wherever. If we can't count on our local water districts to forecast and find a better way to supply water to our area, I don't think Santee (or San Diego) is where I want to be when they do get around to making changes and then charging us even more than they already do. Cutting costs is the story of life right now. Unfortunately conserving water is the natural thought when looking to save money on your water bill, but it sounds like Padre Dam should be giving high water users a break on the cost - correct? I mean if the stink MWD is raising is because they're not selling enough water, than the people who are using the most are the one who are helping Padre Dam and MWD. I understand that Santee Lakes is owned and operated by Padre Dam - http://www.santeelakes.com/faqs.html#owned I also understand that a Santee Lakes foundation has been established to enhance aspects of Santee Lakes, but that it does not own or operate the park - http://www.santeelakesfoundation.org/about.html How does Santee Lakes acquire it's water? Where does that waste water come from? I'm sure if Padre Dam wanted to, they could charge Santee Lakes just a little bit more than us small potatoes.
Bill Pommering June 29, 2011 at 10:10 PM
I believe that Doug's comment about the Santee Lakes Foundation running the Park came out of a misunderstanind of a conversation that he and I recently had. Indeed the Park is owned and operated by PDMWD as a stand-alone, seperate entity (business). Any expenses for or at the Park come from user fees, admissions, camping, etc. NO funds came from ratepayers of PDMWD. The Santee Lakes Foundation is a seperate entity and is not under the control or direction of PDMWD. My apology to Doug Curlee for the misunderstanding.
Doug Curlee June 29, 2011 at 11:22 PM
jen.. i was assuming a couple of things when i wrote.. firstly, that you wanted to remain in santee...sure, there are MANY other places to liv in southern california, at least..almost all of which are supplied by imported water..and by similar water districts.. secondly, with regard to where santee lakes acquires its water.. i assumed you knew that santee lakes are entirely filled with highly treated waste water.. doug
Jen June 30, 2011 at 03:30 AM
Yes, Doug... you assume much. In my post, I acknowledged the waste water and I asked where that waste water comes from. If it's coming from my home as a Padre Dam customer I would imagine that I should receive some sort of consolation (aka. discount on my Padre Dam bill) for providing the waste water to the Lakes - as they are profiting from the waste water.
Doug Curlee June 30, 2011 at 04:35 PM
jen.. are you actually saying padre dam should be paying you for the privilege of collecting and processing the waste water from your toilets and sinks? doug
IG Basker July 01, 2011 at 01:51 PM
Jen, Its more like Padre Dam's processing of the waste from our toilets and sinks saves us money...the water can be sold as recycled water rather than paying the City of San Diego for the privilege of sending it through their system for more processing before its dumped into the ocean. Santee Lakes is just another outlet for "disposing" of the excess recycled water that isn't sold to recycled customers. IG
sluggo July 03, 2011 at 08:05 PM
I'm still waiting for a no-kidding cost comparison of PD rates vs other districts. Kind of tricky to do w/the tiered rate structure, but still doable. I'm betting PD rate payers are getting hosed. I wish someone would cover this in a story. We're thirsting for real information.


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