Friday, January 9, 2009

Rising water costs labeled inevitable, "unbearable" in one California county

North County Times (Escondido, California): Residents attending public workshops Monday and Thursday in Escondido protested a coming jump in water rates that will increase the cost of living in cities throughout drought-stricken Southern California. Lori Vereker, Escondido's utilities director, told the inconvenient truth of continuing droughts and costly water shortages at Thursday night's meeting, where her news was called "unbearable" by one business owner.

…At Thursday night's meeting, Vereker described 400 percent increases in chemical and equipment costs to treat water and wastewater in recent years, as well as escalating costs attached to the 70 percent of water imported by Escondido. "It is hurting people with large lots. It is hurting the agricultural community," Vereker said after one city resident complained that she tried to conserve as much water as possible, but still needed to water her trees in wildfire-prone North County.

"We believe Southern California is going to have to go through a very serious lifestyle change," Vereker said. She illustrated her report on declining water levels in faraway reservoirs and rivers that make up most of the city's imported water with a slide show depicting dramatic decreases in water levels. "We need to get more like Australia, where we really value water and don't waste a drop," Vereker said. "We need to focus on local sources of water, including water re-use."

Vereker said that based on current projections, "We're going to have yet another year of drought with no end in sight." Should the city exceed its allocations of imported water by not factoring in a cushion included in the proposed rate increases, rates could jump as high as 40 percent, she added…..

This map shows San Diego County, California, highlighting Escondido. Map prepared by Arkyan, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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