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By Larry Kramer, Mayor of San Juan Capistrano
Some would say that the cost of water in San Juan Capistrano is high. I agree. There are many reasons why this is the current case. However, the future is much brighter and includes our reduced dependence on outside water sources.
1. For many years the charges for both water and sewer were held artificially low — past city councils did not raise the cost to keep up with the times. Revenues did not cover the cost of providing water or inspecting and maintaining the sewer system. Thus, large deficits were incurred. The costs of water kept increasing and the rate structure did not keep pace. The unit cost of water from our main supplier, the Metropolitan Water District, increased 63 percent since 2007.
2. The start-up of the Groundwater Recovery Plant was difficult. The plant was not producing water at the design output and thus the cost per unit of water was very high.
3. The Groundwater Recovery Plant output was significantly curtailed for many years because of MtBE in the water resulting in the shutting down of two major wells supplying the plant.
The future looks much better.
1. The rates for water and sewer were increased based on a 2009 independent rate study. The large deficits should be gone in the next few years and a healthy reserve will be obtained.
2. Many of the problems with the plant have been resolved and it is operating nearer capacity, resulting in a lower cost per unit output.
3. Modifications to the plant have been made which allow the wells with trace contaminants of MtBE to be put back in service.
4. Additional wells have been drilled to support the plant.
5. A state grant has been received and will further increase the capacity and reliability of the plant, thus further reducing the cost per unit output.