PSB Adopts FY 2017-18 Budget, Rates and Fees
The Public Service Board adopted the fiscal year 2017-18 El Paso Water water, wastewater, reclaimed water and stormwater budgets at its Jan. 11 meeting. The budgets include rate and fee increases that translate into a $4.25 per month increase for the typical homeowner. The fiscal year begins March 1.
The $463.7 million water, wastewater and reclaimed water budget allows EPWater to rehabilitate, modernize and expand systems to meet the needs of El Paso's growing population. The $55 million stormwater budget will fund new flood control projects, maintain the stormwater system and set aside 10 percent of revenues for open space projects and dual-purpose ponds.
Planning for the Future
El Paso's population is projected to increase more than 40 percent by 2040. The budget funds projects that extend pipelines into new areas, build reservoirs and pump stations, and drill wells to increase reliability and prepare for growth.
EPWater will also take the initial steps towards increasing the capacity of its desalination plant, acquire additional land and water rights for water importation, and begin designing an advanced water purification facility that transforms treated wastewater into a safe, reliable drinking water supply.
El Paso has more than 700 miles of water lines that are 40 years old or older and half of its wells are more than 30 years old. The budget funds pipeline replacement projects, rehabilitates wells, and upgrades the plants, laboratory and security and information systems.
Reducing Flood Risk
Completed stormwater master plan projects have reduced flooding throughout the city. Stormwater projects in Central El Paso are increasing public safety by diverting 38 million gallons of stormwater from streets and Interstate 10. Stormwater improvements will continue in Central El Paso, but the FY 2017-18 focus will shift to projects in the Northeast, Westside and Mission Valley.
Affordability in Mind
Last year's 5-year financial outlook forecast an 8 percent increase in water and wastewater rates, but EPWater remains focused on keeping rates affordable. Staff found efficiencies that reduced the water and wastewater rate increase to 7 percent, and efficiencies in operations decreased the stormwater budget by half a million dollars.
The new rate structure will increase the number of customers who see reductions in their water bills. The water supply replacement charge will be waived when customers use less than 4 CCFS (2,992 gallons) of water, which allows conservative water users to reduce their monthly bill by $9.83. An estimated 17 percent of customer bills could be eligible for this waiver in a given month. Currently, the waiver is applied when customers use less than 3 CCFS (2,244 gallons) of water.