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Water rates rise for local cities 

The recently completed Nacimiento Water Project is bringing more than drinking water to its customers: Big bills are heading out, even for those who won’t be getting the lake water for years.

While all of the project’s “partners” have to pay for construction of the project, only one recipient, San Luis Obispo, is actually getting lake water. The recently completed project will provide water from a 45-mile pipeline running from outside Paso Robles to San Luis Obispo.

The Paso Robles City Council voted April 19 to increase its water rates in 2012 and to gradually increase them thereafter. Paso and its citizens have previously fought over water rates, but the conflict seems to be dying down. Few spoke up against the fee raise at the meeting, and city staffers claim the city will go bankrupt by 2014 if rates aren’t increased. The city needs to pay $13 million a year for its share of the project’s construction costs.

Atascadero residents face a 15 percent increase starting July 1. Unlike most cities, Atascadero’s water company is an independent company, so the city will be feeling the pinch of increasing rates as much as its residents. The city found the price hike so onerous, it’s trying to reduce water usage by 15 percent and attempting to negotiate a discount with Atascadero Mutual Water Company.

SLO city officials have proposed a 10 percent increase for residents in June and a 9 percent increase in 2012.

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