Del Mar water, sewer charges to increase

A typical household in Del Mar will pay about $10 more per month over the next year starting in July for municipal water, sewer and storm drain service as a result of City Council action Monday, May 20.

Council members voted 5-0 to give preliminary approval of a rate schedule for the utilities through mid-2024. The increases were calculated on costs that include purchasing imported drinking water, system operations and maintenance, infrastructure improvements and customer use.

Final approval of the rate schedule is expected to occur June 3, after which the amended ordinance instituting the changes would take effect in July.

Actual costs per household will vary based on numerous factors. Specific totals resulting from the increases can be viewed by going to the city’s website at, calling up the May 20 agenda, and referring to Exhibits B, C and D.

Customers’ bills, which are received every two months, should reflect the increases starting in September, Assistant City Manager Kristen Crane told council members.

The bills initially will not reflect a proposed $4 boost to what households pay for the clean water program. It finances the city’s efforts to comply with state mandates by ensuring runoff emptying into storm drains will not pollute streams and the ocean.

Due to a ratepayer’s challenge to the validity of the program’s proposed increase, the council held off on approving that section of the ordinance amendment while the staff researches the protest. Customers will continue to pay the current rate for the program.

The city received 118 protests against the overall package of increases, well below the 951 needed to stop the council from moving forward with approval, Crane said.

According to the rate schedule for all three categories — assuming the clean water increases eventually pass — households will pay less next year, but will gradually pay more over the following three years. By 2023-2024, the average bill would rise about $14 per month over what customers now pay.

Council members said the rates appeared reasonable based on the extensive cost analysis commissioned by the city.

“The system is designed to calculate exactly what it costs to get you that glass of water, and you pay for that,” Councilman Dwight Worden said. “You don’t pay more and you don’t pay less.”