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Water rate increases are needed for operations, wholesale water rate increases, and aging infrastructure. San Bruno’s water rates have been effective since July 1, 2020 and have remained unchanged for over three years. The City’s costs of providing service has increased over this time and are projected to continue gradually rising due to inflation and other factors. The SFPUC increased its wholesale water rates by 27% over the past two years and projects additional wholesale rate increases in future years. In addition, the City’s water system includes many facilities that are reaching the end of their useful lives and are in need of replacement. Many of the City’s water pipelines are 70 to 100 years old and subject to leaks and breaks. The City has made significant progress on its long-term infrastructure replacement program but still has substantial capital funding needs. Water system capital improvements planned for the next five years include replacement of three older water tanks as well as replacement of aging water pipelines and various other improvements to wells, pressure regulating stations, and pump stations.
The City proposed to phase in a series of annual water rate increases over the next five years. The proposed timeline is as follows:
Year 1: effective January 1, 2024
Year 2: effective January 1, 2025
Year 3: effective January 1, 2026
Year 4: effective January 1, 2027
Year 5: effective January 1, 2028
The City’s water rates include two components: fixed monthly service charges; and, quantity charges.
The City is aware that the proposed water rate increases will place additional financial burden on ratepayers and offers utility rate discount programs for water, sewer, and CityNet services based on income eligibility. This discount is currently set at 25% of each utility’s rates. A link to the City’s low income utility rate discount application is available online. The application includes income criteria for program eligibility. Customers who are eligible for the discount program are encouraged to apply and must reapply each year. For questions or more information, please contact Utility Billing at (650) 616-7086.
The following chart compares the City’s current water rates to those of other regional agencies for a typical single family home using 6 hundred cubic feet of water per month. This level of use equates to approximately 150 gallons per day. The City’s water rates are currently in the middle range compared to other regional agencies in San Mateo County and are projected to remain in the middle range as many other agencies have adopted or are anticipating rate increases in upcoming years. [Source: Bartle Wells Associates, San Bruno 2023 Water & Sewer Rate Study]
Members of the public are invited to attend the public hearing on November 14, 2023, and provide input. The meeting will be held at the San Bruno Senior Center, located at 1555 Crystal Springs Road, San Bruno.
Property owners and property tenants who are directly responsible for payment of water rates (each, a “customer”) may submit written protests against the proposed rates. Consistent with California law, written protests must a) identify the affected property or properties, such as by address or Assessor’s Parcel Number; b) include the name and original signature of the property owner or customer of record submitting the protest; and c) indicate opposition to the proposed water rate increases. If a parcel has more than one customer , only one written protest will be counted per parcel. Protests submitted by e-mail, facsimile, or other electronic means are not counted as written protests. Written protests may be mailed or delivered to: Attn City Clerk, City of San Bruno, 567 El Camino Real, San Bruno, CA 94066. Written protests may also be delivered to the City Clerk at the City Council meeting prior to the conclusion of the public input portion of the public hearing. The City Council cannot adopt the proposed rates if a majority protest exists. A majority protest will exist if, at the end of the public hearing, there are written protests submitted that represent a majority of the parcels subject to the proposed rates.
The City's wells supply over 2 million gallons daily. Historically, approximately half of the City’s total water supply is derived from purchased surface water from the San Francisco Public Utility Commission (SFPUC) and the groundwater that is produced from the City’s wells.
The SFPUC is in the process of completing a roughly $5 billion capital program of seismic upgrades and reliability enhancements to its aging Hetch-Hetchy regional water system that provides water supply to many Bay Area communities. To help fund these improvements and ensure adequate revenue recovery over a period of declining water sales, the SFPUC has substantially increased it wholesale water rates since 2010. After 2016, the SFPUC was temporarily able to defer wholesale rate increases due to an overcollection of revenues that resulted in a buildup of fund reserves in a Balancing Account that has been drawn down over the past 5 years. The Balancing Account is now mostly depleted and the SFPUC began resuming annual wholesale rate increases with a 16% increase effective July 1, 2022 and additional rate increases projected in future years. The following chart shows historical and projected SFPUC wholesale water rates.
The 2023-24 Operating and Capital Improvement Program budget, adopted by the San Bruno City Council in June 2023, includes the following projects in the five-year plan for infrastructure improvements:
See the full budget on the Finance webpage.