Cayucos to see high water rate increases



Water bills in Cayucos edge ever closer to a minimum of $200 with the recent San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors vote to increase rates in the seaside community.

Supervisors unanimously voted on an initial water rate increase of $45 with incremental increases to follow. At the Aug. 7 meeting during public comment, Cayucos resident Craig Campbell said he understood the need for funding but that his community had already seen a recent water rate increase.

"This sleepy little town has a lot of issues, and I think what's going to happen is, by the time everybody finds out what they got to pay for, it's going to cause a lot of issues," Campbell said.

The last water rate increase was passed in 2012, bringing the basic bi-monthly (every other month) charge for water service to $115.80. For the 2018-19 fiscal year, the recently approved increase will bring the bi-monthly bill, to a new rate of $176.93. For 2019-20, the increase will be an additional $4.39, and in 2020-21 the increase will be $6.27, equating to a $187.59 water rate.

The increase will generate additional revenues of up to about $285,000 per year to boost financial reserves, enhance already implemented preventative maintenance programs, and fund capital improvement projects.

Eight wharf head fire hydrants in town need to be replaced with standard fire hydrants; service meters require replacement; and leaking pipes need repair, among other things. All functions will improve fire protection and leak detection, reduce water loss, and improve service reliability, according to a county staff report.

The antiquated water pipeline that serves the community lies on the south end of Cayucos and provides 766 connections to the community. More than 80 percent of the water pipelines in town are more than 40 years old, the staff report states, and 23,000 feet of pipe needs to be replaced. The rate increase only funds replacement of 1,000 feet of pipe.

SLO County 2nd District Supervisor Bruce Gibson said the improvements are necessary for the health, welfare, and safety of the community.

"It is the cost of providing the very important service of water, and the ratepayers who benefit from the water service are the ones who, in the end, are responsible for the cost," Gibson said. Δ

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