On Wednesday, the Public Service Board (PSB) approved a $436.1 million El Paso Water budget for water, wastewater and stormwater systems for the 2019-20 fiscal year.
“Along with many other utilities across the country, rehabilitating our older facilities is a priority,” said EPWater President and CEO John Balliew. “Major upgrades at three of our wastewater facilities will improve performance, reliability, efficiency and odor control.”
According to a release by the PSB, they “kept stormwater rates flat while approving an increase of 4 percent for water service and 8 percent for wastewater service. Together, the rate changes translate into a $3 per month increase for a typical homeowner.”
Officials added, “Even with this year’s rate increases, El Paso’s monthly water charges are the second lowest of other large Texas cities. Only Laredo’s water rates are lower, while water rates are higher in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio.”
Nearly half of this year’s capital improvement budget for water and wastewater will be dedicated to addressing aging infrastructure. The utility will also prioritize new water and wastewater infrastructure to support city growth and water supply projects to meet future demand.
The $48.4 million stormwater budget allows for ongoing maintenance of the existing system and continued progress on major flood control projects already underway. Several projects currently in design or construction were funded in the 2018-’19 fiscal year with work continuing into the 2019-20 fiscal year.
Conservation remains a tool for reducing water bills for residential and business customers. The rate structure is designed to provide relief for low water users while charging a premium 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 Water Supply Replacement Charge. Last year, this charge of about $10 was waived on an average of 33,000 monthly customer bills, saving customers approximately $3.9 million.
Earlier this year, EPWater also launched an affordability program – in partnership with non-profit Project Amistad – to help elderly, low-income customers who are at risk of disconnection.
The approved budgets, rates and fees will go into effect at the start of the fiscal year, which begins March 1, 2019.