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Monday, October 1, 2007

San Diego Sewer and Water Bills to Double to Provide Water for Next Wave of Development?

Perrier, it isn't
Aguirre toilet-to-tap plan doubles sewage bills

September 15, 2007

Should San Diegans pay a staggering $4.5 billion for the privilege of drinking treated sewage water from their faucets? City Attorney Mike Aguirre believes they should. What's more, he hopes to persuade federal regulators to require San Diego to adopt his enormously costly and wildly unpopular toilet-to-tap program. Exactly how expensive would it be? City wastewater engineers calculate Aguirre's scheme would drive up the typical household sewage bill, which today is about $38 per month, to a whopping 102.50 per month, or $1,230 per year. Under a series of rate hikes already adopted by the City Council, the typical monthly sewage bill is set to rise to $50.62 cents by 2012. Aguirre's toilet-to-tap proposal would more than double this figure. And this is only the sewage portion of your monthly bill. It does not include your water bill, which also is rising dramatically. If Aguirre has his way, typical homeowners would pay a combined sewage-water bill of $160.77 per month, or $1,929.24 per year – double what they now pay. With this huge outlay by ratepayers, sewage from the Point Loma treatment plant would be processed to higher levels than currently and pumped through a new network of pipelines many miles uphill and deposited directly in city reservoirs. Then it would be treated yet again before flowing to your faucet. Aguirre says San Diego must resort to this high-priced scheme because of looming water shortages. Yet, today San Diego produces thousands of acre-feet a year of recycled irrigation water that is dumped into the Pacific because there are no buyers for it. Before we stoop to drinking our own sewage water – a prospect that raises a variety of health concerns – we should first use all of the recycled irrigation water that we already produce at a much lower cost. We're counting on Mayor Jerry Sanders, who is adamantly opposed to Aguirre's toilet-to-tap plan, to save us from it.

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