HAYWARD -- Water users will see a 20 percent rate hike in October and another 20 percent a year later, as council members agreed to the increases Tuesday to pay for needed retrofit and repair work on the Hetch Hetchy pipeline.
Hayward buys its water from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which has long neglected the system that brings water to the Bay Area from the lower Sierra Nevada, officials said.
The cost for the fix is $4.3 billion, and based on Hayward's water usage, the city is on the hook for roughly $200 million. As a result, the public utilities commission has been raising the rate it charges the city and plans on more increases down the road.
According to Hayward officials, they eliminated some vacant positions in the water and sewer department and are using reserves to soften the blow, but they have no alternative to raising rates.
An average bill will climb from $66 every two months to $79 in October and $95 a year later.
"This is something that SFPUC should have taken care of years and years ago but didn't, so now it is on us," Councilman Olden Henson said.
Deputy Director of Public Works Alex Ameri said that while residents can expect their bill to eventually double, the cost for the city to get water is going up sixfold.
Other associated fees, such as those to connect water and sewer lines to new residences and businesses, also will go up.
City officials said they will work with businesses should they require a payment plan and in particular cater to new restaurants by offering steep discounts on connection fees.