On Tuesday, the Public Service Board (PSB) approved the Fiscal Year 2020-21 Stormwater and Water/Wastewater budgets at their monthly meeting.
The budget includes no increase in stormwater fees, a 5% increase in water fees, and a 5% increase in wastewater fees.
The combined $493 million budget will result in an average increase of $2.81 per month for the typical homeowner.
“The Public Service Board is constantly searching for a balance between our responsibility to provide our customers with a quality product at a reasonable price on the one hand, and necessary maintenance and improvements to water infrastructure as well as the development of future water supplies on the other hand, particularly given the fact that we live in such an arid region,” said PSB Chairman Chris Antcliff.
“Today, the PSB adopted a budget that minimizes the impact on our customers as much as possible while keeping our community on a path of long-term water resiliency.”
Via a news release, PSB officials said that four priorities are driving the increase to budget and rates.
“Securing our future water supply, system expansion for city growth, improvements in customer services and rehabilitation of aging infrastructure. Investments in these areas will support long-term sustainability and reliability for EPWater customers.”
Officials added that major capital projects for the new fiscal year include launching an expansion of the Bustamante Wastewater Treatment Plant, upgrading our treatment system at the Canal plant in Chihuahuita, and beginning expansion of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Desalination Plant.
Work will continue to complete stormwater flood control projects already underway.
“El Paso, like other cities, sets their rates on how much it costs to provide the service,” said EPWater President and CEO John Balliew. “As we’ve needed to diversify our water supply to keep up with growth demands, that cost to provide the service has increased. But we have to seek alternative water supplies to continue as a viable community. Additionally, our budget makes sure that the infrastructure we have in place doesn’t continue to get older and older.”
Via a news release, officials said that, when compared to Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio, “EPWater’s monthly charges are the second-lowest of large Texas cities; only Laredo’s water rates are lower.”
EPWater’s rate structure will continue to provide relief for low-water users while charging more for high-water users. Customers using less than 4 ccfs* (2,992 gallons) of water in any given month will receive a waiver of the $11.04 Water Supply Replacement Charge.
Last year, the charge was waived on about 33,000 monthly customer bills.
EPWater will also continue its partnership with Amistad to help low-income senior customers with bill payment assistance, conservation, and money management counseling. Customers interested in these services through Amistad can call at 915-532-3790.
The budgets, rates and fees will go into effect at the start of the fiscal year, which begins March 1, 2020.