As if water rates weren’t high enough already, they are slated to increase again in July. In fact, the previous City Council majority which included Sam Allevato and Laura Freese, voted to automatically increase water rates 3% every year until 2015, then by 2% until 2018.
3% doesn’t sound like much - until you do the math. Add 3% to last year’s total bills, then take that figure, multiply it by 3% and you have the present year’s total. Repeat this formula every year until 2015 then repeat the formula with a 2% annual increase until 2018. The result is a substantial overall increase in your water bill.
This increase doesn’t even include an increase to the already substantial “Service Charge”; it was raised 5.7% in 2011 and a whopping 17.1% this year. What did we get for this increased “fee”? Nothing, so far as we can tell.
We learned recently that the Ground Water Recovery Plant (the “water factory”) is once again in need of repairs, resulting in three wells being shut down, the Green Sand filters being rebuilt and the GAC filters also needing to be rebuilt. When the water factory is offline for repairs, the cost increases because we must purchase water to replace water not produced by the water factory. Meanwhile, we are still burdened with paying for personnel salaries and operation costs of the plant which amounts to millions per year on top of the cost of repairs.
This has been going on and on since the water factory first started operation. We see no end in sight to the spiraling costs unless the Council majority finally accepts the writing on the wall and agrees to “mothball” the water factory until such time that it can produce water at costs that are competitive with the Metropolitan Water District (MWD).
Why should the taxpayers in San Juan pay $1450 per acre foot to produce our own water when we can buy all the water we need from MWD for $861 per acre foot? We at CCS have repeatedly asked this question of the Council majority without receiving a satisfactory answer. The lease we have with the San Juan Basin Authority (SJBA) to operate its water factory makes no sense when it costs San Juan taxpayers millions of dollars per year in higher water rates.
Maybe it’s time to tell the SJBA to take over the operation of its water factory, which would allow us to buy water from them only IF the rates were competitive with MWD.
It’s time for the Council to admit its mistake and stop throwing good money after bad.