SAWS wants to increase rates over next 2 years to fund improvements

City Council to vote Nov. 9

By Garrett Brnger - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - The San Antonio Water System wants to increase rates by 5.8 percent and 4.7 percent respectively over the next two years. The utility made its case to the City Council, which will vote on whether or not to approve the change.

The utility said it needs to spend money now to save in the long run, but it’s going to need more of its customers’ money to do it.

SAWS said the increases are largely needed to help pay for improvements to the water and sewer systems.

The increase would mean the average monthly bill would go from $62.24 this year to $65.69 in 2018 and $68.83 in 2019.

The increases would bring in an additional $36.3 million in 2018 and $27.4 million in 2019.

Even with the increases, SAWS officials said San Antonio’s water bills stack up well next to those of other Texas cities. CEO Robert Puente said SAWS needs to maintain the system.

“We have 12,000 miles (of pipe) run under our feet. Every single drop is important, so it just costs more to maintain,” Puente said. “We have to replace aging infrastructure. At any given time, our pipes are 50 years old to 75 years old that we have to change out."

The utility said most of the improvements the increase would help pay for are sewer projects to help meet an Environmental Protection Agency mandate.

There is an even larger rate jump projected in 2020, when the utility needs to pay for the operation of its Vista Ridge Pipeline project. Right now, that is projected at more than 12 percent.

Some City Council members expressed concern about raising rates. The council is scheduled to vote on Nov. 9.

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