Phoenix City Council Approves Water Rate Increases

By on March 22, 2021 0 92Views

Phoenix is increasing customer’s water rates so it can pay for new pipes and treatment plants as the city ages and grows.

The Phoenix City Council approved two water rate increases on Wednesday.

The monthly water bill for the average single-family household will increase by about 6.5% by March 2022, or by about $2.40. The increase will vary depending on the household.

While the City Council has been hesitant to increase water rates in the past, more council members are now on board with charging more for water after staff has explained the importance of having money to repair and build out the city’s water system.

The newly approved rate changes follow two other recent increases of 6% each, in 2019 and 2020.

Pipes in older areas of the city are fragile, resulting in thousands of waterline breaks each year, and as the city grows — especially farther north — the city needs money to secure and bring water to newer development in the desert.

It’s likely that water rates will continue to increase in the coming years. City staff has projected rates will need to be increased through at least 2025 to meet the city’s needs.

The council voted 6-3 to approve the rate increase, with Councilmembers Sal DiCiccio, Michael Nowakowski and Jim Waring voting no.

“This is getting to the point of insanity,” DiCiccio said about the continued increases.

The first rate increase, of about 3%, will happen in October. The second, of about 3.5%, will happen in March 2022.

The exact rate increase will depend on the size of the water meter, the season and how much water is used.

Customers pay a flat rate based on the size of the meter until the customer uses a certain number of gallons, and the city charges more for water during the summer.

The “average household” is a single-family household with a 5/8 inch meter using 10,000 gallons a month, using the average of seasonal rates.

For that household, the average bill right now is $35.15, and it will go up to about $37.55 by March 2022.

The city has a tool on its website where residents can calculate how much the first rate increase, in October, will cost them.

City officials say the extra money will be needed to rehabilitate and replace water pipes, treatment plants, pumps, reservoirs and wells.

Even with the rate increases, the city will charge less for water than many other southwest cities, according to city data. Tucson’s average household bill is $66.39, for example, and Dallas’ average bill is $38.44.