SAWS is proposing a series of rate increases over the next five years to pay for additional water sources, as part of its latest 50-year water management plan.
“We think we need to lock down those supplies today at today’s prices for our future because this community is growing by 20,000 people every year,” said Greg Flores, SAWS spokesperson.
He said those projects could take decades to lay pipelines and prepare the needed infrastructure, so waiting could mean higher costs and more competition from other cities with their own water needs.
Two public meetings are scheduled Wednesday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Pan American Branch Library, 1122 West Pyron, and Thursday, also from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at the ATT Center for Information Technology at St. Mary’s University, 1 Camino Santa Maria.
Flores said the first of five yearly proposed rate increases will be 6.9 percent, less than $3.50 for the average monthly bill. He said the others are being calculated ahead of an expected city council vote in December.
If adopted, Flores said the increases would be effective the first of year. He said SAWS received approval in 2000 for another five year series of increases, some actually less than predicted.
Flores said as a result, the agency’s underground water storage facility helped San Antonio through last year’s record drought. He also said San Antonio has yet to enter Stage 3 restrictions that would limit landscape watering to every other week.
Eulalio Huerta, a retired Kelly AFB worker, said his last monthly bill was nearly $60.
“I don’t think I could afford higher water rates, so I guess I would probably cut down my water usage,” Huerta said.
Helen Evins, a SAWS ratepayer in a subdivision near Helotes, said she has reduced her water usage as much as possible, but questions the timing of the rate increase.
“The way the economy is now, it’s not a good idea,” Evins said.
Evins said her monthly bill averages about $50, however she believes the SAWS proposal to build more water projects is long overdue.
Flores said San Antonio had similar, missed opportunities years ago.
“Decisions have been made in the past to either do a little bit at a time or not to do those big projects in the past,” Flores said.