El Paso Water CEO John Balliew talks about water rate increase. Wochit
El Paso Water’s third consecutive rate increase comes as rates also have risen for El Paso’s electric and natural gas utilities
El Paso Water rates will increase for a third consecutive year beginning in March — not long after electric and gas utility bills also increased.
Home water bills will increase an average $4.06 per month after the El Paso Public Service Board Wednesday approved new water, sewage, and stormwater rates as proposed in November.
Residential water and sewage rates will increase 8 percent, or an average $3.98 per month, and stormwater rates will increase 2 percent, or an average 8 cents per month.
That means the average home water bill will increase to $57.95 per month, which includes an average $4.24 stormwater fee, according to El Paso Water data.
Rates also will increase for El Paso businesses at various amounts.
The increase in rates is needed to pay for millions of dollars in new water, sewage, and stormwater projects and regular operations, El Paso Water officials have said.
"As El Paso’s population grows, we must continue to develop new water resources and extend infrastructure to serve new developments of homes and businesses,” El Paso Water Chief Executive Officer John Balliew said in a statement.
The city-owned water utility has about 200,000 customers.
John Balliew, El Paso Water chief executive officer, stands near the Memphis Avenue water-storage tank under construction last September. Higher water rates will help pay for similar projects in 2018-2019, Balliew says.
The El Paso Water rate increases comes on top of a new rate increase that began this month for El Paso Electric customers, which adds an average $3.50 per month to residential electric bills in the winter and adds an average $5 per month in the summer. Also, $2.14 per month in temporary surcharges have been added to residential electric bills beginning Jan. 1, as part of the new rates.
Texas Gas Service last year also increased natural-gas rates again for its El Paso-area customers, adding an average $1.15 per month to residential customers’ bills.
The new El Paso Water rates will help pay for a $490.3 million water and sewage system budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year — an almost 6 percent increase from the $463.7 million budget adopted last year; and a new, $51.1 million stormwater system budget — almost 7 percent less than the current $54.8 million revised budget, utility documents show.
A stormwater retention pond nears completion near Alabama Street and Wheeling Drive in Central El Paso. El Paso water, sewer, and stormwater rates are rising to help fund similar projects and pay for other costs, El Paso Water officials say.
The new budgets include $313.2 million in costs for new construction, equipment, and land acquisition, including $73.5 million for proposed Hudspeth County land purchases, including water rights, for future ground-water importation projects; $69.2 million for replacement of water and sewer lines throughout the city; and $15.1 million for stormwater storage projects, according to El Paso Water documents.
The utility increased water and sewer rates 7 percent in 2017, and 11 percent in 2016. Stormwater rates increased 17 percent in 2017, and 11 percent in 2016.
Even with the increases, El Paso’s water and sewer rates are still among the lowest among cities in Texas and the Southwest, El Paso Water officials have noted.
Vic Kolenc may be reached at 546-6421; email@example.com; @vickolenc on Twitter.