EL PASO – Starting next year, El Paso will see a 9% increase in water rates, as well as a 13% increase in wastewater rates and a 9% increase in stormwater costs.
According to El Paso Water, these increases will allow it to strengthen infrastructure and expand systems to support the city’s growth.
The company’s president and CEO, John Balliew presented to the Board of Public Utilities, budgets for fiscal year 2022-23, which if approved, will mean an increase of $6.37 per month in the average residential bill.
“This year proved to be a challenging one, with two major events impacting our stormwater and wastewater systems. We heard many voices from the community demanding improvement, and we are committed to delivering on that,” Balliew said.
The company said the budget includes a significant increase in capital projects to meet the demands of a growing community and stay ahead of the curve.
He also noted that the aftermath of the recent rainy season and the sewage emergency on the border has prompted a reprioritization of projects, requiring more investment to address costly infrastructure issues that have become urgent.
Budget priorities include safeguarding the city’s water future with resources for aquifer storage and recovery, advanced water purification facility, and expansion of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Desalination Plant.
It also plans to upgrade plants and repair water and wastewater lines, as well as reservoirs and pump stations, and to boost efforts to upgrade technology and improve customer services.
According to the document presented, the main plans are a new customer information system and the installation of 20,000 smart meters.
In addition, to meet the requirements of Texas Senate Bill 3, EPWater has added $50 million to the budget to upgrade freeze protection, water storage and backup power generators.
The largest proposed investment centers on a $500 million expansion over the next several years to upgrade the Roberto R. Bustamante wastewater treatment plant. The project will extend the life of the facility by 30 years to serve the eastern part of the city.
The board presented two alternatives for consideration of the stormwater budget, both of which included a 9% rate increase, representing an increase of 41 cents for the typical household.
Alternative one allows for $50 million in projects in 2022-23, with strategic prioritization of Stormwater Master Plan projects, totaling $357 million in infrastructure investments over 10 years.
While alternative two allows for $70 million in projects in 2022-23, accelerating the completion of all Stormwater Master Plan projects, totaling $700 million in infrastructure investments over 10 years.
The company indicated that the rate structure will continue to provide relief to low-water users, while charging more to high-water users. Customers using less than 4 ccfs* (2,990 gallons) of water in a given month will receive a waiver of the $12.88 supply replacement charge.
The board will vote on the budget, including rates and fees, during the PSB meeting on Jan. 12. If approved, the new amounts will take effect at the start of the fiscal year, which begins March 1.
Source: MEXICO-NOW Staff