Residents will be paying more for water beginning Aug. 1 as a result of a 15% water rate increase approved last week by the City Council.
The council voted 4 to 1 in favor of the rate increase. Councilwoman Donna L. Chessen opposed it.
The increase in water rates is needed to cover an estimated $800,000 deficit in the city's water fund, city officials said. The city has not raised the price of water since October, 1989.
The council also approved a 15% increase in the monthly base water meter charge. Customers are charged a monthly base rate, determined by meter size. Revenue from the base rate helps pay for the maintenance of the city's water system.
"Even with the increase, we are still in the lower 25% of water rates in Orange County," said the city's finance director, Greg Beaubien.
In opposing the increase, Chessen said she believes a flat rate would be more equitable. She said residential customers whose homes have larger pipes shouldn't be penalized by having to pay more.
Beaubien said the water rate increase means customers will soon pay 93 cents for every 1,000 gallons of water consumed, instead of the current 81 cents.
Overall, the average monthly bill for a family consuming between 1,000 and 9,000 gallons of water will increase $1.67, to $12.96 per month.
For a family consuming between 9,000 and 15,000 gallons monthly, the average will rise from $16.15 to $18.60. Residents using between 15,000 gallons and 30,000 gallons of water will pay $4.40 more a month, or $32.70.
Beaubien said the base meter charge will generate about $158,000 in additional revenue and the increase in the per-gallon consumption will yield about $530,000.
He said the rate hike is necessary to offset the increased price for water supplied by the Metropolitan Water District and the Orange County Water District.
The city, which now buys 60% of its water from MWD, plans to drill two more wells in order to become less dependent on the giant water wholesaler.
Beaubien said that because of price increases expected over the next two years, the city will likely be forced to raise its water rates again next year.