The Public Service Board approved the EP Water Fiscal Year 2022-23 Water/Wastewater and Stormwater budgets on Wednesday morning.
The combined $877M budget includes a 9% increase in water rates, a 13% increase in wastewater rates, and 9% increase in stormwater fees. Monthly water, wastewater and stormwater charges for will increase by $6.37 for a typical residential customer.
“We must invest in our water, wastewater and stormwater systems to deliver reliable services to our customers,” said EPWater President and CEO John Balliew. “We have been very mindful in the past of keeping rates and fees down, but we have reached a point where we must be more proactive in our investments to avoid failure in our system.”
Key funding priorities, which are driving budget increases, include securing the city’s water future, rehabilitation of aging infrastructure to improve reliability; expanding systems to meet the needs of growth in El Paso; improving resiliency to manage extreme weather events (in compliance with new state standards); and prioritizing areas with high flood risk to improve public safety.
“The utility has many big-ticket projects that we need to see completed, and that is why I support this increase,” said PSB member Bryan Morris.
The stormwater budget enables progress on $70 million in projects in 2022-23 and sets the stage to accelerate the completion of all the projects in the Stormwater Master Plan over 10 years.
“We are responding to many community voices demanding better from the utility after two major events impacted our stormwater and wastewater systems this past year,” Balliew said.
“Balance is challenging, and in the past, I have pushed back on certain rate increases, but given what ratepayers are asking from us, we need to move forward with more investment,” said PSB member Chris Antcliff.
Keeping affordability in mind, customers can also save on their monthly bill through conservation. Customers using less than 4 ccfs* (2,990 gallons) of water in any given month will receive a monthly waiver of the $12.88 Water Supply Replacement Charge.
The budget, rates and fees will go into effect at the start of the fiscal year, which begins March 1, 2022.