San Juan Bautista to hike water rates

Some residents believed drought conditions aggravated the nitrate problem in the San Juan wells.

It’s about to get more expensive to take a shower or use the bathroom in San Juan Bautista. Mission City officials also put questions out there as to why districts such as Hollister and Sunnyslope continue to use tiered rate structures despite a recent court ruling, in San Juan Capistrano, barring the practice.
It’s about to get more expensive to take a shower or use the bathroom in San Juan Bautista.
Council members Tuesday approved a gradual five-year increase to the Mission City’s water and sewer rates. It came after the town’s residents for more than half of 2014 were told to avoid tap water, while restaurants—a crucial piece to the tourism draw in the city—were barred from using it. That was because San Juan’s nitrate levels exceeded allowable state standards, which city officials last year attributed to drought conditions.
City officials responded to the nitrate problem by moving ahead on an array of expensive upgrades, including well drilling, which are playing a role in the rate hikes. City Manager Roger Grimsley also highlighted the construction of a water-softening pellet plant as another benefit funded by the increases. The city had hired a consultant to devise a new fee structure, and those fees were approved Tuesday.
Former Councilwoman Jolene Cosio spoke against the rates during the public comment period of Tuesday’s meeting and noted how the monthly water and sewer costs for homes using up to 3,000 gallons was going from less than $132 to $145.
“That’s pretty significant when people are on a fixed income and aren’t using a lot of water,” Cosio said.
Council members vowed they would implement some kind of program for residents on a fixed income.
“We’re going to have a system in place,” Councilman Jim West said.
It won’t be a traditional tiered system like other communities use, though. During that same discussion in San Juan, it came up several times how other municipalities continue to use tiered rate structures—Hollister and Sunnyslope water districts included—despite a recent court ruling against San Juan Capistrano that could bar communities from following them.
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