SAN ANTONIO -

The San Antonio Water System has given the San Antonio City Council a proposed rate increase of 9.9 percent for 2013. 

That would be an average of $4.93 more a month.

“I don’t believe people have a problem with paying for things that the sewer system and the water system need," said Mayor Julian Castro.

The water company needs the increase in revenue to help deal with sewer clogs and infrastructure repairs.

"Five dollars does not seem like an outrageous amount and I do know we have water problems in this city," said SAWS customer Darie O’Connor.

The main problem they have, SAWS officials say, is grease mucking up the works. Grease sent down the kitchen sink sticks to pipes. Enough grease will eventually cause a sewer backup.

"You have grease that floats on the top and then there is sewage down at the bottom and there is the grease that sticks on the sides of the pipes," said Anne Haydens SAWS spokeswoman.

That sewage is more than just human waste.

"What we call 'rags' -- the flushables, the paper towels, the janitorial rags -- don’t flush those because they don’t go away and they get stuck in the pipes," Hayden said. 

Add that to the grease, she said, and you have got problems.

Over the years, she said, SAWS workers have found a turtle, construction site debris -- including rocks -- and even an engine in the sewer system.

The proposed rate hike will get looked over in-depth before the mayor will agree to it.

"I will be blunt with the public: We have a huge challenge with our sewer system. Different parts of it are falling apart," Castro said.

The other part of the equation: the city’s water demands are rising.

"So that’s going to mean the rates are going to go up. There is no way to sugar-coat that," Castro said.

It could be a few weeks before a final decision on the proposal is made.

"If it’s to fix the water system, I am definitely in favor of it, " said Daniel Riojas, a SAWS customer.\