Providing Safe, Reliable, Affordable Water

Safe, reliable and affordable water is a fundamental public service provided by the Water Authority and its 23 member agencies. Everything at the Water Authority is designed to seek the lowest possible rates while maintaining a safe and reliable water system.

Water affordability requires coordinated efforts by all levels of government agencies – federal, state, wholesale and retail – because they all play a role in the investments and infrastructure that transports, treats and delivers water to homes and businesses. Historically, federal and state investments have helped cover costs for ratepayers; in recent decades, retail and wholesale agencies have borne more of the costs and that has hit ratepayers in the pocket book.

Current Budget and Rate Process

Water rates are rising across the state for a variety of reasons, including inflation that is driving up the cost of items like electricity, steel and chemicals needed for water delivery and treatment.

The Water Authority is not immune from those impacts; in fact, San Diego County’s strategic investments in supply reliability, coupled with work to maintain the aqueduct system, mean that residents and businesses will pay more for water in future years. The good news is that even in long dry spells, the Water Authority can meet the regional demand for water that sustains our economy and quality of life.

On June 22, 2023, the Board of Directors approved increasing wholesale water costs for its 24 retail member agencies by 9.5%. Actual rate impacts will vary by agency based on their use of the Water Authority’s system and actual water purchases. Water rates paid by residents and businesses will also vary based on factors unique to each retail agency.

Approximately 90% of the Water Authority’s recommended budget is for buying and treating and delivering water, combined with debt service and infrastructure projects to ensure water is available when and where it’s needed. As in past years, the Water Authority’s Operating Departments – including all agency staff and day-to-day work functions – account for about 7% of the budget. The approved budget for fiscal years 2024 and 2025 increases spending by those departments by 1%, or $1.5 million, compared to the current two-year budget.

For more information about water rates, click here

Looking to the Future

The Water Authority works closely with state and federal government, wholesale water agencies, and local water retailers to find solutions to the complex challenges related to water costs, rates, and investments. In addition to convening state and federal leaders on this issue, the Water Authority is pursuing several avenues to promote affordability: 

  • Ramping up advocacy for state and federal investments in water supply projects, which have declined significantly in recent decades 
  • Working collaboratively with local community organizations along with state and federal leaders to craft a low-income assistance program that meets the region’s diverse needs 
  • Working with retail member agencies to assess different rate structures for 2024 and beyond 
  • Hosting discussions with key federal, state, regional and local agencies to promote affordability  
  • Developing alternative revenue sources, such as the San Vicente Energy Storage Facility  
  • Attracting and retaining highly skilled staff to ensure the viability of the regional water delivery system for generations