Del Mar residents have given mail ballot approval to both new and existing utility rate charges associated with the city's Clean Water Service.
Residents were asked to both ratify an existing five-year rate schedule in place since 2003 and approve a new rate hike to be implemented on July 1. 2009.
The city's Clean Water Service fee has been part of utility bills since 2004, but due to a California Supreme Court decision handed down in 2006, collection of the fee had to be approved by a majority of property owners. Results from the mail ballot were released on Sept. 16, and it showed owners approved the existing rates by 68.9 percent of the vote. Next year's proposed rates were passed with 62.4 percent of ballots in favor.
Next year's rates will not only include a new monthly flat fee but also a new monthly charge based on volume of water usage by residents and businesses. Based on median single-family usage, next year's flat fee will increase about $6 per two-month billing period to about $27.23.
The Clean Water fee pays for state and federally mandated programs to improve water quality in oceans and lagoons. Unlike the city's sewer system, which collects waste and is directed to a treatment plant, waste in the city's storm sewer system is largely untreated when it empties into the ocean and lagoons; save for some debris removal and an in-place fossil fuel filter. That means cigarette butts, urban runoff, pesticides; fertilizer and pet waste all have the ability to end up in waterways.
Del Mar pays over $500,000 a year in Clean Water program expenses. The Del Mar City Council will be asked to officially ratify the rates at its Sept. 22 meeting.