Oklahoma City residents are about to see a price hike on their water bills. The city says the increase will help improve the water system, maintain operations and promote water conservation.
Your standard Oklahoma City water bill includes your sewer charge, drainage fee, trash, an EPA-mandated storm water quality charge and the EMSA care program for those enrolled. Now, water and sewer rates could be going up by about 17 percent over three years.
"That's just too much,” said OKC resident, Brenda Teders. “It's going higher and higher, and it's not like you're getting anything different."
The city says the money will pay for several important projects, like building another Atoka pipeline to help the 100-mile line that pumps water to Lake Draper that was constructed 50 years ago.
“A second pipeline running parallel to the existing line would run as a backup and also serve as another resource if we needed water from southeastern Oklahoma to Oklahoma City,” OKC Utilities spokesperson, Debbie Ragan said.
For the average customer using 7,000 gallons of water a month, whose bill is currently $51.60, less than $3 will be added onto the bill for 2015, 2016 and 2017. With the average increase of $8.69, the bill will be $60.29 by 2017.
"People don't think it's a lot, but it's going to be a lot when you're on a fixed income and retired like myself,” said OKC resident Leland Powell. “It's going to be a big thing and make a big difference. We already have high taxes. The property taxes just went up, and the value of houses haven't went anywhere, and now, they're going to go up on the water.”
Ragan says the utilities department does not use tax payer money but operates on rate payer revenue, so the rate increase is necessary for improvements.
“We never know when that rainfall is going to stop, and we learned a couple years ago to not take our water supply for granted, so our work in the projects coming up will help us maintain an adequate water supply for a growing city and for future generations,” Ragan said.
The city will have a public hearing on August 26 in the city council chambers to discuss the rate hike before it's voted on September 9.