Residents in the San Luis Obispo County town of Santa Margarita are facing a rise in their water bills, after the county board of supervisors held a hearing Tuesday to hear protests to the proposed increase. Since the county received just 23 written protests out of 500 water customers, the increase went through.
County public works staff say the increase is needed to pay for things like new meters and more preventative maintenance.
“A system does age over time, and you end up having more and more breaks,” said Jill Ogren, a senior engineer with the county’s public works department. “There’s over seven miles of pipeline [in Santa Margarita] and it’s all original material.”
The county first installed a water system in Santa Margarita in the mid-1960s, and Ogren said the last rate increase in 2008 paid for a new water tank and other improvements.
“There's still more work to be done,” Ogren told the county supervisors. “A lot of service lines to people's homes are needing to be replaced. There are soil characteristics [in Santa Margarita] that seem to be a little more corrosive than in other areas.”
The 2019 increase will be phased in over a three-year period, but by the mid-2022, Santa Margarita water customers will see their bi-monthly bills go up by an average of $48.