SAN ANTONIO -

San Antonio Water System recommended rate adjustments for 2013 water and wastewater rates to the San Antonio City Council Wednesday.

The total of the proposed adjustments, including an effective reduction in the EAA pass through fee, represent a net increase of 9.9 percent or an increase of $4.93 on the average monthly residential bill and will support sewer system and water supply requirements.

"It is important that we invest in our sewer system in order to reduce the number of sewer overflows in San Antonio and comply with the federal Clean Water Act," said Robert R. Puente, SAWS President/CEO. "At the same time, our growing community needs water for a prosperous future and we will get that from a new desalination plant in southern Bexar County."

Despite the proposed adjustments, SAWS officials said the city will still offer among the lowest water and sewer bills of major Texas cities.

The largest part of the proposal would fund rehabilitation of the city's sewer system, replacing aging infrastructure and expanding efforts to reduce sewer spills, or sanitary sewer overflows.

Televising and cleaning of large and small sewer mains throughout the city will identify and remove clogs of grease and debris, which cause up to 75-percent of the city’s sewer spills. Televising work also allows SAWS to identify structural defects that cause sanitary sewer overflows.

The proposed rate adjustment will also fund construction of a Groundwater Desalination project scheduled to bring a drought-proof water supply online by 2016.

"We understand it may be hard for customers to pay a little more," said Doug Evanson, SAWS Chief Financial Officer. "We’ve worked very hard to reduce unnecessary expenses, and we hope our customers understand the need to make these critical investments for the future of our city."

SAWS will be presenting details of the rate proposal to citizens in all 10 council districts, in the coming weeks and months. For more details on dates and locations of the currently scheduled meetings, visit www.saws.org/rates.

SAWS also presented briefings on a new Water Conservation Ordinance – modifying watering hours and requirements triggering drought restrictions – and updates to the city's 50-year Water Management Plan.