Nearly 200,000 people in the South Bay are about to pay more for their water.
Monday night the Sweetwater Authority voted to increase water rates by five percent.
The state ordered the district to cut back on water use by 12 percent. Residents exceeded that goal leading to a drop in revenue for the water district.
"The water bill just keeps going up, the more I conserve, the higher it gets," said one of several residents who spoke out against the rate hike.
Michael Seiler lives in Bonita. He said it's unfair that people who have to use more water are charged at a higher rate.
"The subsidized free ride that lower water use customers have been enjoying must end for all," Seiler told the board.
According to the water authority, conservation started in June; revenue in July was down $200,000.
"The costs are exorbitant in the upper tiers, it's just unfair," said Dave Schlesinger, who also lives in Bonita.
Unfair and illegal, according to a lawyer representing the Sweetwater Rate Payers' Association.
"I guess the Sweetwater Authority has not learned anything from the Capistrano Taxpayers action," said attorney Ben Benumof.
Benumof was involved in a recent lawsuit against the city of San Juan Capistrano over its tiered water rate system.
Ultimately, the court ruled in favor of the customers. The ruling essentially says if a city buys all of its water from a single source at a set price customers must be charged the same rate.
"You had higher water users, paying an unproportional amount and you have lower water users paying an unproportional amount," said Benumof.
Governor Brown has said tiered systems help promote conservation.
"I want to make it clear this is not a battle between conservation and no conservation, there are so many ways to conserve and people are doing it across the state, but it has nothing to do with tiered rates," said Benumof.
To watch the news broadcast on ABC 10 News, August 31, 2015, please click here.
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