Approved 2018-19 budget focuses on rehabilitation, growth and reliability
The Public Service Board (PSB) approved the El Paso Water Budget for fiscal year 2018-19 for its water, wastewater, reclaimed water and stormwater utilities on January 10. The new budget includes an 8% water/wastewater rate increase and a 2% stormwater fee increase. Together, these translate into an increase of $4.06 per month for a typical homeowner.
The $490 million water, wastewater and reclaimed water budget enables El Paso Water to replace aging infrastructure, improve reliability and secure future water supplies. The utility has also prioritized investment in a new customer information system and will continue staffing improvements and technology upgrades to improve customer satisfaction.
"As El Paso's population grows, we must continue to develop new water resources and extend infrastructure to serve new developments of homes and businesses,” said EPWater President and CEO John Balliew. “We also aim to improve system reliability and customer service.”
The $51.1 million stormwater budget will help expand flood control projects, maintain the existing stormwater system, and continue to set aside 10 percent of funds for dual-purpose ponds and open space projects.
With the completion of stormwater projects in Central El Paso to reduce flooding, the focus has shifted toward several other flood-prone problem spots in West, Lower Valley and Northeast El Paso, Balliew said. Completed projects in Central El Paso have resulted in 65 million gallons of pond capacity created for flood control on Interstate 10.
“El Paso Water is trying to be proactive by repairing and replacing deteriorating infrastructure,” said Mayor Dee Margo. “We need to be prepared, and build for the future.”
Even with this year’s rate and fee increases, El Paso’s monthly water charges are well below those of other large Texas cities and other Texas border cities. And on a national scale, El Paso’s water and wastewater rates are less than half of the national average of $140 per month.
Conservation is the key to 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 $9.83 was waived on an average of 38,000 monthly customer bills.
The PSB also gave EPWater approval to enter into discussions with Project Amistad, a local non-profit, on an affordability program to help those who struggle to pay their monthly bill.
The approved budgets, rates and fees will go into effect at the start of the fiscal year, which begins March 1, 2018.