2020 Water Rates


Proposed 2020 Water Rates

Please see water rate calculator below.

Five alternative rate structures were thoroughly discussed at the SFID September 19th Board meeting: Uniform rate; 5-Tiers; 4-Tiers; 5-Tier with Meter Overlay and 4-Tiers with Meter Overlay. The Board voted 4-1 (King opposed) to move forward with “Alternative 3:  5-Tiers with Meter Overlay”. 

What is “meter overlay” you may be thinking?  Water costs for the first two tiers are the same for every single family customer regardless of their meter size.  Costs for the remaining three tiers have four ranges depending on the size of your meter.  The meter overlays allow larger meters to stay within tiers 3-4 longer based on their hydraulic design capacity.  The smallest meters, 5/8” and 3/4”, have a hydraulic 1 factor; 1” meters have a 1.6 factor; 1 ½” meters have a 3.0 factor; 2” meters have a 5.2 factor.

Single Family Customer Rates:

  Current Rates Proposed 2020 Rates
Tier 1 $2.40 (1-15 hcf) $2.46 (0-10 hcf)
Tier 2 $2.92 (16-37 hcf) $3.36 (11-32 hcf)
Tier 3 $5.47 (38-165 hcf) $4.79 (see below)
Tier 4 $6.36 (166+ hcf) $5.23 (see below)
Tier 5 n/a $6.33 (see below)

The proposed 2020 tier sizes depend on how big your meter is. So the tier sizes for tier 3, 4, 5 are:

  3/4″ 1.0″ 1.5″ 2.0″
Tier 3 33-41 hcf 33-66 hcf 33-123 hcf 33-214 hcf
Tier 4 42-87 hcf 67-140 hcf 124-261 hcf 215-453 hcf
Tier 5 88+ hcf 141+ hcf 262+ hcf 454+ hcf

Needless to say, it is very hard to figure out if your particular rates are going to go up or down based on this, so the RSF Post has created a cost calculator. Plug in your usage (it shows up as “Cons”, for consumption, in the Meter Reading section of your bill) and your meter size (stated in the Current Charges section) and you can see what the proposed 2020 rates are. This is just usage, it does not include the Meter Fixed Charge fee. Note: My thanks to Phil Trubey for creating the rate calculator.

Water Rate Calculator
Usage: (hcf)
Meter Size:
Current Cost:
2020 Cost:
% Increase/Decrease:

Other Rates:

For multi-family, commercial or ag rates, here are the proposed changes:

  Current Rates Proposed 2020 Rates
Multi-Family $4.60 / hcf $5.24 / hcf
Commercial $4.62 / hcf $4.98 / hcf
Irrigation & Agriculture $5.26 / hcf $5.92 / hcf


Rate Equity

The following charts demonstrate proposed rate adjustments for the year 2020:  22% of 3/4” meters will have decreases; 37% of 1” meters will have decreases or no increase;  41% of 1 1/2” meters will have decreases or no increase; and 48% of 2” meters will have decreases or no increase.  For years 2021-2022, the expectation is rate increases of 3%/customer/year.

Please note: The following charts were derived from line graphs provided at the Cost of Service Study Workshop which gave a general look at how the proposed “ Alternative 3: 5-Tiers with Meter Overlay” will affect single family customers’ bills.  The rate consultant did a calculation that included both the bi-monthly fixed meter charge and general water usage profiles for SFR customers within the four meter sizes.  This article does not go into detail on the proposed reduction in bi-monthly fixed meter charges.  Next month’s article will focus on issues surrounding fixed meter charges. 

Before existing rates were adopted in early 2016, I actively encouraged customers to file Prop. 218 Rate Protest forms.  It was my firm belief that the 2016 rate structure disproportionately penalized customers with larger properties, while also penalizing customers on the other end of the spectrum who used almost no water for outdoor irrigation. It is my opinion the following charts demonstrate how the proposed rate structure is attempting to address those 2016 rate design deficiencies. It is natural for a customer to look favorably on proposed one year bill decreases; however, I would like to point out that for four full years customers with bills that fall in the “red ink” categories were paying a disproportionate share of District costs, in my opinion.

The following charts compare bill impacts of current rates with the proposed “5-Tiers with Meter Overlay rates”:

Why I Voted “No” on the “Alternative 3” Proposed Rate

I have always supported a Tier 1, 0-10 hcf design and have written many times a Tier 1 of 0-10 hcf provides everyone with sufficient indoor use water at our lowest possible local water price – an amount that lines up nicely with the Governor’s 55g/p/c/d.  I do not support the Tier 2 11-32 hcf, because that allows a significant percentage of customers with smaller properties to get all their outdoor water needs supplied at our lowest possible local water price.  I believe that once every customer gets their indoor water needs addressed by our lowest possible local water price, that remaining local water supplies should be proportionally spread across customers with an acknowledgement of property size.  The “Alternative 3” proposal has some language that in a high rainfall year, all customers who irrigate their outdoors – particularly those with large lots – will be charged at imported water rates, though delivered lowest cost local water and this over-charging is supposedly going to be tracked.  The District is taking our money, yet there is no transparent proposal in place for promptly returning those monies to the appropriate customers – the ones who were charged imported rates for local water in the first place!  In a nutshell, that is why I could not vote to support the “Alternative 3” proposal.

Lake Hodges Dam Update

The California Division of Safety of Dams has been consulting with the City of San Diego, the owner of Lake Hodges Dam, and the City has “…plans to implement additional interim risk reduction measures adding security, weather forecasting, cameras, alarms, and remote data management until all major dam safety related issues are fully addressed.” It is acknowledged that there are “…localized areas of concrete deterioration and cracking on the dam.”  The City complied with DSOD dictate to reduce the water level to 295.00 feet.  “DSOD will allow infrequent exceedances above the restricted elevation up to a maximum elevation of 297.00 feet for no more than 10 consecutive days.  However, if the restricted elevation of 295.00 cannot be achieved within that time frame, or if the reservoir exceeds Elevation 297.00, the City must immediately operate its low-level outlet system…”  “Given the multiple outlined deficiencies at the dam, DSOD is changing the condition assessment of Lake Hodges Dam from “Fair” to “Poor”.   09/04/19 letter of Sharon Tapia, Chief, Division of Safety of Dams to City of San Diego.