(May 22, 2012)

SAN DIEGO -- Councilman Carl DeMaio Monday proposed a "Ratepayers Bill of Rights'' designed to limit future water cost increases to residents.

The mayoral candidate said San Diegans have seen their water rates climb 67 percent in five years. The Metropolitan Water District, the Los Angeles- based agency that is the city's ultimate supplier, is planning to charge higher prices in the future.

DeMaio's reforms focus on the city making its own Water Department more efficient.

"San Diegans have been hosed by higher water rates year-after-year,'' DeMaio said. "It's time we give San Diego working families a break.''

The 10 provisions of his proposal:

  • a water rate structure that allows residents to save money when they save water;
  • a requirement for a two-thirds vote of the City Council to approve future water rate increases;
  • annual performance and financial audits conducted on the San Diego Water Department;
  • having the Water Department operations undergo competitive bidding;
  • offer rebates to customers from any savings from operations and capital project savings;
  • ensuring that employee salaries and benefits are no better and no worse than the local labor market;
  • diversification of supply to ensure competition, adequate reserves, and a steady source of water, including emerging technologies such as desalination;
  • a right to professional, responsive, and timely customer service from the Water Department, and easily accessible online billing;
  • preventing breaks to water and sewer mains; and
  • creation of an Independent Rates Oversight Committee to protects ratepayers.

"It is critical that our Water Department practice fiscal discipline by controlling its spending and reducing the burden on San Diego families,'' said DeMaio, who will face District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, Rep. Bob Filner, D- San Diego, and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher in the June 5 primary election.

As a sitting councilman, DeMaio is a frequent critic of Water Department spending practices.