In the second of two budget workshops Monday evening, El Paso Water leaders presented the proposed 2017-18 water, wastewater and reclaimed water budget to the Public Service Board (PSB).
The PSB heard details of a proposed $463.6 million dollar budget that funds the Utility’s operations along with projects to rehabilitate, modernize and expand systems to meet the needs of El Paso’s growing population.
Last year, the PSB received a 5-year financial outlook from the Utility that projected an 8 percent increase for this coming fiscal year, but staff was credited with finding efficiencies, resulting in an adjusted recommendation to the PSB for a 7 percent rate increase instead. That translates into an additional $3.64 per month on the average customer bill.
“As El Paso’s population grows, we must continue to diversify our water supply to serve the needs of our City not just for today but for the next generation, said EPWater President and CEO John Balliew. “Just as important, we must rehabilitate aging infrastructure, improve our safety and security systems and upgrade our technology to be more efficient and hold down costs.”
In FY 2017-2018, EPWater proposes to take the initial steps toward increasing the capacity of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Desalination Plant, make additional land acquisitions for water importation and begin designing an advanced water purification facility that transforms cleaned wastewater into a safe, reliable drinking water supply.
More than 700 miles of El Paso’s water lines are 40 years or older, and half the wells are more than 30 years old. The proposed budget funds rehabilitation of several wells and replacement of aging pipelines.
Also included are upgrades to plants, reservoirs, the International Water Quality Laboratory and our security and information systems.
El Paso’s population is projected to increase more than 40 percent by 2040. The proposed budget funds extending water lines into new areas, building reservoirs and pump stations, and drilling wells to increase reliability and prepare for growth.
Even with the proposed rate increase, average water and wastewater bills will remain among the lowest in the region and other arid communities. The rate structure rewards customers who conserve water.
Currently in an average month, about 11% of customer bills receive a waiver of the water supply replacement charge because they use less than 3 CCFs (2,244 gallons) per month.
The Utility is proposing to raise that threshold to less than 4 CCFs (2,992 gallons) per month – which could result in 17% of customer bills receiving a waiver. The move could enable conservative water users to reduce their monthly bill by about $10 per month, or $120 per year.
|Monthly Water and Wastewater Bill||Current||Proposed||Change|
|Residential – 3ccf
|Residential – 11cf||46.08||49.72||3.64
Timeline for Review and Approval
Public comment is encouraged at the upcoming regular PSB meeting on December 14 and January 11. The PSB will approve final water, wastewater and reclaimed water and stormwater budgets at the meeting on January 11.
Both meetings begin at 8:00 am at 1154 Hawkins. The PSB-approved budget and fees go into effect at the beginning of the fiscal year, which begins March 1, 2017.