San Luis Obispo residents will pay a nearly 20 percent increase for water over the next two years after a 3-2 vote by the City Council on Tuesday night.
The City Council also approved a 13.5 percent increase in sewer rates in a 3-2 vote.
A 10 percent increase in water rates will begin in July, followed by a 9 percent increase in 2012.
More than 200 people protested the water rate increase. However, to prevent the council from enacting the new rates, 7,351 — 50 percent plus 1 of the city’s water users — would have had to oppose the increase.
An average local household uses about 6,732 gallons, or nine billing units, of water a month, according to city figures.
The water bill for such a household, 2.3 people on average, is $52.13 a month. It will go up to $57.33 in July and to $62.53 in 2012.
Councilwoman Kathy Smith and Councilman Dan Carpenter voted against the increases.
Water and sewer rates have increased every year since 2006. Rates last increased in July 2010, with an 11 percent increase in water rates and a 9 percent increase in sewer rates.
The latest raise in rates made Tuesday was planned in 2009 as the city was calculating how to pay for San Luis Obispo’s share of the $176 million, 45-mile Nacimiento pipeline.
The city has been using Nacimiento Lake, north of Paso Robles, as its main water source since January.
At the same time, the city will defer maintenance to avoid higher rates.
Revenue has declined because people are using less water. In 2009-10, water use was down 8 percent compared with the year before, equaling a $1.5 million loss in water sales for the city.
At the same time, the city will cut its water fund by $4.5 million over the next three years to avoid higher rate increases. The majority of those cuts will be from capital projects.
Future rate increases will likely need to be made to offset declining revenue because capital improvement projects such as replacing aged pipelines can only be deferred for so long, city officials said.
Right now those projected increases are 8 percent in 2013-14 and 7 percent in 2014-15.
Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.