Staff and Wire Reports
Councilwoman Sherri Lightner unveiled a plan at Wednesday's meeting of the council’s Natural Resources and Culture Committee to overhaul the city's policies for maintaining a sustainable and affordable water supply.
Residents tell her their lawns are brown but they aren't seeing lower water bills, while business leaders say they need access to a stable water supply, Lightner said.
Existing policies are outdated and often inconsistent, she said.
Lightner said she hopes to bring her proposals forward for approval during the summer.
She outlined the patchwork of existing, outdated Council policies that currently deal with water before describing her draft policy and the importance of creating an implementation plan after City Council approval of the new policy. She called on her colleagues to join in developing a plan with other stakeholders in San Diego to implement the new policy.
In a press release, Lightner described her water policy efforts as “one of my top priorities for this year because the City Council is relying on policies that are over a decade old to make critical decisions about our water supplies, water rates and infrastructure that are affecting all businesses, residents and other ratepayers in the city.”
Lightner then highlighted resident and business concerns about water rates and reliability.
“Business industry groups tell me that San Diego is a great place to do business, but we must ensure that there is enough water to sustain our economy in the future. Residents tell me that they continue to conserve water, and yet their rates continue to rise. Their lawns are dead, and they haven’t saved any money on their water bills,” Lightner noted.
Also at the meeting Councilman Carl said he is forming a task force to find ways to lower water rates by 15 percent over the next five years.
In January, the City Council approved a 5.9 percent increase in rates, passing along hikes from water wholesalers. DeMaio was one of two dissenters to the action.
The increase amounted to $3.41 per month for the average homeowner, with the typical bill around $72.
DeMaio invited members of the public to either serve on the task force or pass along their ideas. He said he hoped for a report by fall.
— City News Service contributed to this report.
• Development of a diverse local supply including conservation, desalination, graywater and rainwater collection and wastewater recycling
• Collaboration between local and regional businesses, agencies and other partners for securing water reliability
• Rate structures that encourage con- servation and discourage waste
• Increased communication between the City Council, Public Utilities Department, County Water Authority, Independent Rates Oversight Committee and Ratepayers