CITY HALL — A water rate hike approved this week by the Metropolitan Water District — which supplies Santa Monicans with 80 percent of their water — won’t lead to an additional price increase for residents, but higher water bills are still on the horizon for local rate payers.
Metropolitan’s board on Tuesday voted to hike rates 7.5 percent on Jan. 1, followed by an additional 7.5 percent increase in 2012.
Those increases won’t affect the Santa Monica Water Resources Division’s plans, according to manager Gil Borboa, but local consumers can expect even bigger increases the City Council has already approved.
Borboa said Metropolitan’s action this week was a predictable step that had already been factored into a schedule of rate increases the council approved in 2008, which will hike water prices for Santa Monica residents 10.5 percent on July 1, with annual 10 percent increases the next two years.
MWD is a water wholesaler that sells water to 26 cities and water districts, which serve nearly 19 million people in parts of Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
While WMD is a major water source for locals, Borboa said two local projects that are nearing completion will make Santa Monica more water independent by next year.
He said local wells will provide Santa Monica with 75 percent of the water it needs in 2011, thanks to increased capacity that is expected from two facilities, the Arcadia Well Field and the Charnock Well Field, both located in West Los Angeles.
The facilities are being restored using money from a settlement City Hall won from oil companies to filter out a gasoline additive known as MTBE that had contaminated ground water in the area.
Meanwhile, local water use is down 12 percent from three years ago, Borboa said, proof that residents have responded well to calls to conserve.
“The rate payers in Santa Monica are doing a really good job in terms of conservation and we’d like to see that continue,” he said.
He said City Hall’s “100 percent commodity based” rate structure, in place since 2008, also serves as a strong incentive to conserve because customers pay only for the water they use, without being charged a built in service fee.