SAWS looking to raise rates in next 2 years

Additional revenue to be used for sewer maintenance, water projects

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Water System customers could see their water bills go up over the next two years.

SAWS is proposing a 5.1 percent rate increase for 2014, which would add about $2.59 to the average monthly residential bill.

The utility will also discuss a 5.3 percent rate increase for 2015 with the city.

"We're going to be adding 20,000 new people every year to this community," said SAWS Vice President Greg Flores. "We need the water for their well-being, for their jobs, for their quality of life. I think most people understand that's got to be addressed ahead of time."

Flores said revenue from the rate increases would be used to bring several water supply projects online, inspect and clean aging sewer systems, and fund a new pipeline to deliver water from a plant in southern Bexar County to San Antonio.

The rate hike is not going over well with SAWS customers, who saw their water bills go up by nearly eight percent earlier this year.

"We have a large group of people that are on fixed incomes. We have a large group of elderly people," said Leo Miera. "To them it probably will hurt."

The 5.1 percent increase is far less than the 13.5 percent increase the utility had planned to request.

"We've done a lot of work over the last six months to bring our costs down and save about $10 million," Flores said. "No one was laid off."

With the city dealing with older pipelines and sewage problems, some customers said they were willing to give SAWS a pass.

"If it does the city any good, you should," said Rey Cruz.

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