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City Council Approves New Water and Wastewater Rates

January 29, 2020

City Council Approves New Water and Wastewater Rates

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Last night, the Santa Monica City Council held two public hearings and approved new rates for water and wastewater in order to continue to offer high-quality and reliable drinking water to Santa Monica’s 93,000 residents and 2,700 businesses. The rates will nearly eliminate costly imported water over the next five years and continue essential water pipe replacement projects.  

“Local Santa Monica water will be even more dependable and more affordable in the long run," said Mayor McKeown. "Our long-term investment in local water sources and infrastructure will save Santa Monicans money when distant water imported through quake-vulnerable aqueducts and pumped over mountain ranges becomes ever more expensive.” 

Under the new rate structure, Santa Monica water customers will see an average 17 percent increase, each year, in water and sewer bills over the next five years. The new rates include a fixed rate of 15 percent to reflect the cost of service. Fixed rates are common among nearly all water utilities. Eighty-five percent of water bills will be determined by water use (a commodity charge). The new rate structure maintains Santa Monica’s water and wastewater rates as one of the lowest in the region. The rates were shared with the community through a series of open houses and neighborhood organization meetings in summer, fall, and winter 2019.  

Communities across the southland rely on imported water from Northern California or the Colorado River that are subject to climate change impacts. Santa Monica is working to eliminate dependence on imported water by 2023. The new rates will help achieve water self-sufficiency, which will allow for greater local control of water costs over the long term while also reducing carbon emissions associated with water traveling hundreds of miles to get to local taps. 

In 2011, nearly half of the City’s water supply came from imported water. Today, we import between 25 and 35 percent. In five years, Santa Monica’s water system supply will look like this: 

   

As part of the new rates, a drought rate structure will be established in case of a statewide emergency.  Residents who participate in the low-income assistance program will continue to receive subsidies to match the new water rate tier structure.  

On November 12, 2019, Proposition 218 notices were mailed to all water and wastewater customers and property owners of record. The protest period closed with the conclusion of the public hearing before City Council last night. The number of protests submitted was well below the required threshold of 11,767 to stop the proposed rates. The new rates take effect March 1.  

For more information on water rates, visit www.santamonica.gov/waterrates.   

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