Public Service Board approves 2021-22 El Paso Water budget

The Public Service Board approved the El Paso Water fiscal year 2021-22 Water/Wastewater and Stormwater budgets Wednesday morning.

“El Paso Water continues to strengthen its portfolio of water resources by investing in infrastructure and responsibly managing our sources,” said John Balliew, EPWater President/CEO. “In a challenging year for many, EPWater and our essential workers continued to deliver for our customers.”

The combined $508M budget includes slight increases to rates and fees. Monthly water, wastewater and stormwater charges for the typical home will increase by $1.37 for a typical residential customer.

Key funding priorities driving the slight increase include securing El Paso’s future water supply, improving system reliability through rehabilitation of aging infrastructure, and expanding systems for city growth. Investing in these priorities will support long-term sustainability for customers.

The increase in stormwater fees, which results in a 26-cent increase to the monthly charge for a typical home, will allow for the completion of additional flood control projects and provide for public safety improvements.

Initially, EPWater proposed no increase in stormwater fees, but during the board’s November meeting, PSB members asked to
see options that included an increase.

“If we make these small incremental increases in stormwater fees, then we will prevent a future one-time hit of a larger increase that ratepayers will have to absorb,” said Terri Garcia, PSB Secretary-Treasurer.

Capital improvement projects for the new fiscal year include: new wells; rehabilitating several water tanks and pipelines; upgrades at five water and wastewater treatment plants, and technology and facility upgrades to increase efficiency of operations.

EPWater will also launch the first phase of a multi-year project that will take treated Rio Grande water during plentiful seasons and use it to recharge the Hueco Bolson to improve drought resilience.

Even with the increases, EPWater’s monthly water and wastewater charges remain among the lowest when compared to other large Texas cities like Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio. EPWater’s rate structure will continue to provide relief for low water users while charging more for high-water users. Customers using less than 4CCFs (2,990 gallons) of water in any given month will receive a waiver of the $11.82 Water Supply Replacement Charge.

The budget, rates and fees will go into effect at the start of the fiscal year, which begins March 1, 2021.