Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Rainbow MWD board approves rate increase

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

The Rainbow Municipal Water District approved rate increases of up to 9% over the next five fiscal years.

A 5-0 Rainbow board vote June 27 adopted the ordinance stipulating the rates and fixed charges. Although the variable rate will only increase by 0.1%, the fixed charges for the smallest meters will increase by 29.5%.

“The board’s been hesitant to raise rates,” said Rainbow general manager Tom Kennedy. “We just couldn’t hold off any longer.”

In November 1996, the state's voters passed Proposition 218, which requires a public vote on benefit assessments but exempts water and sewer rate increases if a cost of service study shows a relationship between the rates and the agency's cost to provide service. A rate setting policy can be in effect for up to five years and must include a rate design and public review.

Rainbow last held a Proposition 218 hearing in 2021 before an increase in the inflation rate created costs beyond what the district had anticipated. The 2021 hearing approved a 9% increase for 2022, a 5% increase for 2023, a 4.5% increase for 2024 and 3% increase for 2025 and 2026.

The June 27 Proposition 218 hearing authorized increases of up to 9% each year from 2024 through 2028. The rate increases do not include any increases in the cost of water purchased from the San Diego County Water Authority or from the Eastern Municipal Water District should Rainbow be successful in detaching from the SDCWA and purchasing water from Eastern.

“We’ve been trying for years now to hold our rates down,” Kennedy said. “Inflationary pressures and the need for pipeline replacements made it impossible to hold off on raising rates.”

Water rates include both charges per unit and fixed charges for expenditures, which are incurred even when water use is reduced. Fixed charges cover the water agency’s expenses in the event of low water sales, which is often the case during a rainy year, but penalize those who conserve. During Fiscal Year 2022-23 operating costs exceeded revenues by approximately $765,000 and that doesn’t include any funding for capital projects.

Water purchased from the CWA accounts for approximately 58% of Rainbow’s operating costs while wastewater treatment costs set by the City of Oceanside whose outfall treats Rainbow’s wastewater account for approximately 35%, so only approximately 7% of Rainbow’s total operating costs are within the district’s control.

Rainbow’s billing unit is 100 cubic feet, or 748 gallons. The cost per unit will increase from $5.47 for Fiscal Year 2022-23 to $5.53 for Fiscal Year 2023-24 for single-family or multi-family residential, commercial and institutional accounts, $4.56 for agricultural accounts which are not on the Special Agricultural Water Rate and $4.01 for SAWR accounts. Rainbow has seven pumping zones and each of those also have pumping charges per unit that reflect the cost of pumping the water to each area.

The monthly fixed operation and maintenance charges for single-family or multi-family residential, commercial or institutional accounts will increase from $69.20 to $89.59 for a 5/8-inch or 3/4-inch meter, from $115.32 to $145.42 for a 1-inch meter, from $230.66 to $285.01 for a 1 1/2-inch meter, from $369.05 to $452.51 for a 2-inch meter, from $807.27 to $982.92 for a 3-inch meter, from $1,453.09 to $1,764.59 for a 4-inch meter and from $2,998.43 to $3,635.01 for a 6-inch meter.

For non-SAWR agricultural accounts, the increase will be from $119.92 to $142.17 for a 5/8-inch or 3/4-inch meter, from $198.18 to $233.06 for a 1-inch meter, from $396.38 to $460.27 for a 1 1/2-inch meter, from $634.21 to $732.93 for a 2-inch meter, from $1,387.30 to $1,596.36 for a 3-inch meter, from $2,497.16 to $2,868.77 for a 4-inch meter and from $5,152.85 to $5,913.47 for a 6-inch meter.

The increase for SAWR accounts will be from $103.41 to $127.47 for a 5/8-inch or 3/4-inch meter, from $172.35 to $208.56 for a 1-inch meter, from $344.89 to $411.27 for a 1 1/2-inch meter, from $551.51 to $654.53 for a 2-inch meter, from $1,206.43 to $1,424.86 for a 3-inch meter, from $2,171.56 to $2,560.07 for a 4-inch meter and from $4,481 to $5,276.47 for a 6-inch meter. The monthly fixed charge for all pumping zones was increased from $7.14 to $8.39.

 

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