Water and Wastewater Rates Effective Dec. 1, 2023 and Jan. 1, 2024
As of Dec. 1, 2023, water rates will increase overall by 5%. This is the first adjustment approved by the San Diego City Council on Sept. 19, 2023. This includes a pass-through charge from the San Diego County Water Authority of 3.6% to pay for increases in the cost of imported water supplies.
As of Jan. 1, 2024, wastewater rates will increase by 4%. This is the third annual adjustment approved by the San Diego City Council on Sept. 21, 2021. These rates were approved to align with the current cost of services.
These increases will help the City continue to upgrade core infrastructure by replacing aging water and wastewater pipelines and fund investments like Pure Water. The change to your City of San Diego Public Utilities bill will vary based on your type of account (commercial, residential, etc.), the size of your water meter, your water usage, and your use of the wastewater system.
We understand these increases may be challenging to afford. The Low Income Household Water Assistance Program can help with past due water and wastewater bills. Learn more at www.MAACproject.org/LIHWAP. You may also be interested in rebates available for certain water-saving devices. Visit https://www.sandiego.gov/public-utilities/sustainability/water-conservation for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
The City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department (Department) is dedicated to providing reliable water service in a cost-effective manner while protecting our water resources and the public’s health. The Department does not generate a profit and is not supported by the City’s General Fund. The City’s water rate structure must account for and set rates to reflect the full needs of providing water service. The Department strives to keep costs low. However, some costs, such as the price of purchasing water, are beyond the department’s control. The City purchases as much as 85% to 90% of all its drinking water. When the suppliers increase the cost of this water, the City must pay more. In addition, the City must finance routine rehabilitation and replacement of aging infrastructure to ensure the Department is providing reliable service that complies with local, state and federal regulations. The City issues debt to pay for these improvements so that the cost of these improvements is paid by the ratepayers over the useful life of the infrastructure.
Making sure San Diegans have clean water is expensive, partly due to the local, state and federal regulations the City must follow. Approximately 59% of the Public Utilities’ Fiscal Year 2024 Budget is expected to go toward the purchase of imported water and the remaining 41% of the Department’s budget will pay for maintenance, upgrades and debt service for the City’s water system. Updating and maintaining our vast water delivery system is essential for the City to continue bringing clean water to our 1.3 million residents while maintaining strict quality standards.
Current upgrade projects include:
- Investing in customer support solutions to address routine customer concerns quickly and effectively.
- Resiliency improvements at water treatment plants that produce millions of gallons of water per day for delivery across our 3,300-mile distribution system.
- Replacing 40 miles of pipelines each year to reduce pipeline failures.
- Increasing onsite renewable power from 1,910 kilowatts (KW) to 2,766 KW, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and long-term costs.
The City is also continuing its investment in the Pure Water Program, a landmark water recycling program that will greatly reduce the need for the City to purchase imported water. For the Pure Water Phase 1 projects, the City is borrowing $733.5 million at 1.38%, saving over $300 million in avoided interest costs to reduce water imports by 40%. Our largest infrastructure program to date, Pure Water will provide nearly half of San Diego’s water supply locally by the end of 2035.
You can learn how to read your water meter and find out your water usage at www.sandiego.gov/public-utilities/customer-service/billing/water-meter-read.
For single-family residential customers, an individualized flat sewer rate is determined based on the amount of water used during the previous winter. You can learn more on how this is calculated at: https://www.sandiego.gov/public-utilities/customer-service/billing/winter. For all other customers, the sewer rate is based on water usage.
On Jan. 1, 2023, a pass-through charge from the San Diego County Water Authority (CWA) of 2.5% went into effect to pay for increases in the cost of imported water supplies. The City currently imports as much as 90% of its water, which is purchased from CWA.
Also, wastewater rates increased by 4% on Jan. 1, 2023. The increase will help the City continue to upgrade core infrastructure by replacing aging pipes and wastewater mains and fund investments like Pure Water. The change to your City of San Diego Public Utilities bill will vary based on your type of account (commercial, residential, etc.) and your use of the wastewater system. Following a cost of service study on wastewater (sewer) rates, on Sept. 21, 2021, the City Council approved a four-year consecutive rate increase starting with 5% in 2022, up to 4% in fiscal years 2023 and 2024, and up to 3% in fiscal years 2025 and 2026.
Decreasing Your Water Usage
To decrease your water usage, you can use water more efficiently, repair leaks and ensure that you have the most efficient plumbing fixtures and toilets, washing machines, dishwashers and shower heads. The Public Utilities Department offers all kinds of tips, hints, programs and rebates to help you save water. For more information, visit: wastenowater.org.
Annually, from November through April, the City monitors the amount of water each customer uses for wastewater billing because that is when the highest percentage of water used is returned to the sewer system. The City monitors your water usage during two billing cycles and uses the total from the cycle with the least amount of usage to calculate your sewer rate. By conserving water during the winter monitoring period, you can lower your sewer rate during the following year.
Also, some San Diego residents may qualify for MAAC’s Low Income Household Water Assistance Program.
The City of San Diego requested authority to a pass-through charge from the San Diego County Water Authority (CWA) to pay for an increase in the cost of imported water rates up to 3% beginning Jan. 1, 2023.
The City currently imports as much as 90% of its water, the bulk of which is purchased from CWA. CWA considers rate adjustments every year and its board approved its next rate adjustment on June 23, 2022, effective Jan. 1, 2023. CWA rate study has cited changes in the cost of water importation and energy prices as the driving forces behind its rate adjustment.
Proposed water rate increases were presented to the City Council’s Budget and Government Efficiency Committee on June 22, 2022. The rate increase was approved by the City Council at a public hearing on Sept. 20, 2022.
Below is the Proposition 218 notice which was mailed to all City water customers to inform them of the proposed rate increases. There are also translations of the notice in five additional languages.
For the first time in 10 years, the City of San Diego increased wastewater rates, by 5%, starting in January 2022. In addition, a pass-through charge from the San Diego County Water Authority to pay for an increase in the cost of imported water increased water rates 3% beginning in January 2022.
The rate adjustment increases revenue 5% for sewer services and will help the City continue to upgrade core infrastructure by replacing aging pipes and sewer mains. It also funds investments like Pure Water, a landmark water recycling project that will increase the supply of local drinking water, avoid wastewater treatment cost increases and reduce discharges to the ocean.
The changes to water and sewer bills vary based on the type of account (residential, commercial, etc.) and the use of the wastewater system.
The City currently imports as much as 90% of its water, the bulk of which is purchased from the San Diego County Water Authority (CWA). While the costs of purchasing water from CWA have risen over the past several years, the City is passed on a rate adjustment for the first time in two years of approximately 3% starting in 2022. Water and sewer rates in San Diego are comprised of base fees and usage charges for various customer classes.
The City conducted a cost of service study on wastewater (sewer) rates to evaluate future revenue requirements for operating and capital costs. The study found that if the City’s sewer rates remain unchanged, there will not be enough revenue to provide necessary wastewater and recycled water services between fiscal years 2022 and 2025. As a result, Public Utilities proposed a four-year consecutive rate increase starting with 5% in 2022, up to 4% in fiscal years 2023 and 2024, and up to 3% in fiscal years 2025 and 2026.
Proposed water and wastewater rate increases were presented to the City Council’s Budget and Government Efficiency Committee on April 7, 2021.
On July 8, 2021, the City released an addendum to the cost of service study that incorporated all of staff’s recommended changes to the cost of service study, as presented to the Council's Budget Committee on June 23, 2021. The cost of service study with the addendum is the final document used to calculate the noticed proposed rate changes.
For more information:
- Customer Bill Calculator for 2022
- Water and Wastewater Rate Increases Questions and Answers (English)
- Aumento de Tarifas de Agua y Aguas Residuales Preguntas y Respuestas (Español)
- Water and Wastewater Rate Increases Fact Sheet (English)
- Información sobre aumentos de tarifas de agua y aguas residuales (Español)
Below is the Proposition 218 notice which has been mailed to all City water and wastewater customers to inform them of the proposed rate increases. There are also translations of the notice in five additional languages.
- Proposition 218 (English)
- Proposition 218 (Spanish)
- Proposition 218 (Tagalog)
- Proposition 218 (Vietnamese)
- Proposition 218 (Chinese)
- Proposition 218 (Somali)
In order for the public to have opportunities to receive answers to questions about the proposed rate increases, several community forums were held virtually during the months of July, August and September 2021. Answers to many of the questions asked at the forums are provided in the linked document below. Also, click to watch a recording of the Sept. 2, 2021, public forum provided in English and Spanish.
- Questions and Answers from Recent Public Forums - Revised Sept. 8, 2021
Recording of Sept. 2, 2021, Public Forum