Water Bills To Double in California Following Tax Spike

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: Apr 11, 2024

Budget changes and property tax increases will cause some California residents to see their water bill double this summer.

On Tuesday, a huge decision was made concerning the state of water usage in the Golden State due to infrastructure growth and ecological damage due to droughts. 

Big Budget Increase for Californians

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) decided on a new budget to permanently increase property taxes over the next two years.

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Customers will see a gradual but eventually dramatic increase in their homeowner bills due to the water demands in Southern California. 

Droughts Worsening Budgets in the Area

The cause is said to be droughts in the southern area of the state, causing widespread ecological disasters.

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A slight reduction in water conservation efforts was helped by two abnormally wet winters in the state. However, fires and mounting dry weather in the summers have offset any help from the rainy seasons.

Two Aspects of Bills To Be Affected

The MWD notes that residents’ water bills will increase alongside their annual property taxes.

A brass water meter siting directly above a dry ground

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Board of Directors Chair Adán Ortega Jr. told the Los Angeles Times that the group cannot continue to make up for lost revenue and that residents will now be on the hook.

Plans for Rate Increases

In 2025 and 2026, homeowners can expect to see their bills increase by 8.5% each year.

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The increases are expected to affect 19 million people in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura counties.

Spokespeople Urging Residents To Use Less Water

In an attempt to help lessen the blow of the water bill increase, spokespersons for the MWD have recommended that people simply use less water.

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The rates of water also depend on where a home received their water from. Usage from Metropolitan is expected to be passed directly to consumers, whereas other sources that have water may not be affected as much.


Median Costs for Average Families

The median cost for a family in Los Angeles currently sits at $28 per year for the ad valorem property tax. The average bill is expected to increase to $56 under the new bill.

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The price rises come at a time when families are paying increased prices for food, rent, mortgage rates, and more. The price increases will negatively affect families already on the brink of financial ruin.


What the Cost Will Cover

According to the MWD, the costs associated with monthly water bills cover things like importing and treating drinking water, as well as finance climate change adaptations to infrastructure.

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The group says that up until now, they have been conserving and cutting costs, but are simply losing too much money.


Climate Change Affects Water Usage and Infrastructure

Under the new bill, $2.4 billion will be allocated for operations, capital investments and debt services. Also, $100 million will be used directly towards conservation programs.

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Ortega noted that the budget directly reflects the cost of climate change. The water systems need to work differently when dealing with massive fires, droughts, and ecological changes.


Underground Water Passageways To Be Built

One of the main pain points for the MWD is getting water safely from Northern California to the south.

A large green and blue water pipeline sitting on lush green grass

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Massive networks of underground water channels need to be built to bring water safely to where it’s needed.


Large Investments in Infrastructure

The massive spending to move water 400 miles from the north hopes to improve the lives of Southern Californians in the future.

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The MWD call on their Climate Adaptation Master Plan for Water as the backbone to future policies.


Many Board Members Against the Hike

A number of board members who directly represent the people of Los Angeles county objected to the rise in taxes for California residents.

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They claim that the increase in property taxes and water bills will only make the area more unlivable for lower wage families and disadvantaged citizens like single parents and seniors. They hoped that the MWD would find a different solution to pay for the infrastructure bills.