The San Luis Obispo City Council is proposing double-digit increases in water/sewer rates for each of the next five years. These graduated increases will take place unless a mass of people attend the council meeting at city hall at 4 p.m., Thursday, June 11, to protest.
With the economic situation the way it is I am surprised that the city council would consider raising costs. In 2006, we were paying for water and sewer bi-monthly. I had my records checked by the city’s water/sewer billing department and was told I was paying $80 to $90 for two months. After that time, we were all paying every month and my costs were $50 to $60 per month. Using the upper numbers of $60 and $90, that is an increase of $15 per month and $180 per year.
Recently an NPR program revealed that water is not metered in many of the arid Central Valley/Fresno area towns but they pay the same flat rate. No matter how much water homes or businesses there use or how much flows through the sewers, they all pay a reasonable flat rate. Near Modesto in Ripon, the rate including fees for water, sewer, and garbage is $40.
In the Resource flyer from the city, Spring 2009, Volume 13, Issue 2, the article “No Water Shortage Here Today” states, “the City of SLO has reduced its water use by about 35 percent since the late 1980s. A pretty amazing feat … the exception, not the norm, in California.” The disparity between the costs to the citizens in Central Valley towns and SLO is alarming and cries for an explanation from city officials.
In a May 5, 2009 Tribune article, “SLO water, sewer rates may increase,” Sally Connell stated that a current “household of four using 7,480 gallons of water per month … is paying $47.15 per month and this will increase to $52.80 this summer. The water rate for this household in 2006 was $33.”
I checked with two neighbors who each have three adults in their homes with yards. One’s bills varied from $70 to $164 during the rainy months from October 2008 to April 2009. The other’s for April totaled $139; water $57 and sewer $72. Three families with small children are paying from $120 to $200 and another with five children is paying $210. They have chosen not to do a vegetable garden this year because of the cost of water. The family costs quoted by Sally Connell seem unrealistic when compared to these six families using water frugally.
The council has made poor decisions allowing developers to build to their hearts’ content, resulting in insufficient water resources. In the ’80s knowledgeable people spoke about the lack of water percolation in the hills around us that contributed to our lack of water, and about our need to conserve and not overbuild. With the “build, build, build” mentality of the recent city administration, we lost our way and caused the problems we now face.
Please, please attend the meeting on June 11.