Lakeside Water District raises rates on customers for the first time in 13 years

Courtesy Photo.

For the first time since 2008, the Lakeside Water District has raised its rates for customers.

By a unanimous vote, the LWD Board of Directors voted to increase its meter service charge by 15 percent at their monthly meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. The new rates will affect all meter sizes.

The proposed rate hike prompted the public hearing to consider any protests from the community. By law, if a majority of ratepayers opposed the increase, the board could not move forward.

The district mailed notices to its over 6500 households, which resulted in four written protests.

Six customers from the community attended the meeting.

Only three spoke to the Board, with two being only moderately opposed to the rate hike, with another actually wondering aloud why the increase was not more.

An initial swell of concern on social media had the Board prepared for a larger crowd.

A staff presentation illustrated the issues facing the district.

The reason for the revenue increase was twofold. First, LWD has been replacing aged pipeline for the past eight years, now part of a 100-year asset management plan adopted in 2014.

The second reason, more frustrating for the community, is that a drop in water sales resulted from the 2013 to 2016 drought.

Mandated to cutback by 20 percent, LWD residents responded by conserving 30 percent, according the Board Director Steve Robak. This led to a $300,000 annual decrease in water sales, which has continued since then.

The loss in revenue has forced LWD to dip into their reserves, which makes sustainability problematic. Thus, the need for a rate increase.

The new revenue will amount to $47,173 for the second half of the 2019-2020 fiscal year alone.

The next fiscal year should see another $94,347 for the district. This increase will not solve the problem, so future hikes are probable.

The staff presentation pointed out that, even with the increase, the district would remain the least expensive in San Diego County.

The last rate increase was in 2008, when the district added $1 to their base charge for a five-eighths inch meter (and proportionally more for the larger meters).

They did the same thing in 1993.