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Reports from the county grand jury don't usually get much attention. A recent one should be the exception.
Earlier this month the grand jury released a report on San Diego's water future. While we've heard a lot in the last year about water problems, it typically involves pleas by water authorities for people to conserve water.
Such pleas are doomed to fail because they rely on the good intentions of consumers rather than decisions and behavior guided by self-interest. In the case of water use, self-interest means minimizing water bills.
The grand jury's "Water Conservation: Sober Up, San Diego, the Water Party Is Over" veers away; it tackles how those bills are structured. The report addresses the issue of water rates and the idea of expanding the tiered water-rate structure.
According to the report, single-family homes in the city of San Diego are charged according to a three-tiered rate structure.
As families use more water, they get bumped into a new tier and are charged more. Water districts throughout the county use a similar pricing system.
This system falls apart, however, when it comes to multiple-family residences and commercial and industrial users. Both categories pay a flat rate no matter how much water they use. This, too, is how it works in many of the county's other water districts.
Extending tiered-rates to commercial and industrial would be a controversial change, but it is one that deserves further study and consideration.
The grand jury deserves credit for not only raising the issue of flat water rates but giving it priority over conservation programs and unrealistic attempts to stop new growth.