Frequently Asked Questions
What determines water rates?
The cost of water is the Water Authority’s largest expense and has the biggest impact on rates.
Can the Water Availability charge be waived or deferred?
Property owners can apply for a deferral. The deferral is for property owners who do not receive water from any of the Water Authority’s member agencies and have no plans to begin receiving water in the future. However, this is a deferral of the fee, not a waiver. If the deferral agreement is ended, the property owner will pay all the past deferred charges, plus the interest compounded annually.
To get an application for a deferral or for further questions, write to the Right of Way Department, San Diego County Water Authority, 4677 Overland Avenue, San Diego 92123 or call (858) 522-6900.
Who is assessed the Water Availability charge?
All property within the Water Authority’s area is assessed unless it has been deferred. The Standby charge is not linked to water consumption.
What is the Water Availability charge?
The charge is ten dollars per parcel or per acre, whichever is greater. For example, a parcel measuring one acre or smaller is assessed $10. A parcel that is 6.3 acres is assessed $63.
Why do I have a Water Availability charge on my tax bill?
The Water Availability Charge is an assessment on all property in the Water Authority’s service area. The State Legislature authorized this assessment when it approved Assembly Bill 2928 in 1988. The Water Authority began collecting the charge in 1989.
What is the Water Authority doing to control rising costs?
We are providing strong oversight at MWD; aggressively controlling costs within the organization; and continuing our program of long-term supply diversification to reduce our reliance on MWD.
Will water costs continue to rise?
Yes. Rate hikes by MWD, decreases in water sales, increases in State Water Project costs, infrastructure improvements, and repair costs are all factors. In addition, the economic downturn has negatively affected the revenues the Water Authority’s receives from property taxes and interest income.
What do these factors entail?
Cost of Purchasing: MWD, the Water Authority’s largest supplier has lost access to low-cost Colorado River water due to drought conditions and falling reservoir levels. As a result, MWD has become more reliant on meeting demand by using more expensive supplies from the State Water Project.
Conveyance:Drought and regulatory restrictions on operations to protect threatened fish have drastically reduced water deliveries from the State Water Project. To help make up for the reductions, both MWD and the Water Authority are purchasing more expensive water from Northern and Central California.
Why are rates increasing?
Significant increases in the cost of purchasing and conveyance are the largest factors contributing to rate increases.
Who is responsible for billing?
The Water Authority is a wholesaling entity with no retail customers. Water rates and charges are billed directly to member agencies that then bill individual customers. For retail and individual customer billing questions, contact your member agency for directly (follow this link to be directed to the member agency page.)
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