(KTSF by Jessie Liang)
San Francisco, CA – San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) plans to increase the FY 2014-2018 water and sewer rates by more than 30 percent. The rate increase is not only for San Francisco customers but also for its wholesales customers in the Bay Area.
The SFPUC spokesperson Tyrone Jue says, ” The average increase per single family home is about $7-10 dollars per month, and that $7-10 dollars per month each year for the next four years.”
According to the SFPUC, the purpose of raising rates is to cover the operating and capital costs in order to upgrade the system infrastructure and keep the service reliable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The San Francisco voters approved a $4.6 billion Water System Improvement Program in 2002, and currently about 75% of the program have finished.
“The 75% of all of this increase is going towards paying this major capital projects on our water system and sewer system. So you see the most of increase each year is paying for those bonds that we use to rebuild the water system,” Jue said.
The City’s pipelines are more than 100 years old. Jue says to maintain and upgrade the system would ensure that it meets current seismic standards and provides the water service within 24 hours after a major seismic event.
The SFPUC’s data shows the current water and sewer cost per gallon in San Francisco is less than 2 cents. The new proposed cost is less than 3 cents per gallon. If a single family home is paying $86 per month in 2014, the cost in 2018 would be about $119 per month.
One of San Francisco residents says, “That’s not a really big. That’s a meal in San Francisco. That’s nothing, so I’m okay with it.” Another resident says, “Upgrading the infrastructure is necessary. It’s just a matter of time. If they don’t increase the water rate this year, they will increase it next year.”
One resident complains that the City has too many taxation and fees which is unfair. He says, “It’s always an excuse. It’s always an excuse and never go down.”
The Rate Fairness Board appointed by the City is currently reviewing all rate plans. The Board of Supervisors is expecting to vote on the rate plans in May, 2014. If the plans were passed, the new rates would take into effect on July 1, 2014.
Besides 800,000 San francisco residents, the SFPUC’s wholesale customers, about 1.7 million people at 3 other counties in the Bay Area will also see the water rate hike in the next four years. The rate setting though will be considered by their local water district.
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