Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti announces support for higher water rates

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday announced his support for a plan that would raise city water rates by about 4.7% each year over the next five years.

The mayor said the increase would amount to $11 more a month for the typical customer after five years. The L.A. Department of Water and Power asserts the increase is needed to improve the city's aging pipes and water infrastructure.

"No one likes to raise rates," Garcetti said in a statement. "But the price of inaction will be much higher for all of L.A.'s residents."

The rate hike is half of a broader DWP proposal that would also increase electricity rates. Garcetti has not yet expressed his position on the new proposed power rates.

Garcetti has long said he supported increases to both water and power rates in principle but wished to wait until the DWP's independent ratepayer advocate had issued an opinion before endorsing the utility's specific proposal. Last week, the ratepayer advocate signed off on the plan for raising water rates.

Department of Water and Power commissioners are scheduled to discuss and possibly vote Tuesday on the proposal. The City Council must also approve the new rates.

Garcetti campaigned for office in 2013 on promises to "reform" the DWP, the nation's largest municipal utility, but the agency has suffered from persistently low customer satisfaction over his time in office.

"Since my first day in office, reforming the DWP to increase efficiency and maintain reliability has been a top priority," Garcetti said in his statement. "To do this we need to have an honest conversation about the work that lies ahead, but we must do this in the face of an aging infrastructure and a historic drought that demands swift action."

peter.jamison@latimes.com

Twitter: @petejamison

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