Wichita Falls' Planning Meeting Reveals Possible Future Water Hikes

- Wichita Falls leaders met Tuesday to plan for the future, and one thing that may lie in the near future is more water rate hikes.

Wichita Falls' water customers have cut back their water usage by millions of gallons a day, but the precious water supply continues to dwindle. And while using less water is good, less water revenue plus the need to build water conservation projects means some work that needs to be done gets put off.

“Deferring capital maintenance projects and those are typically repairs to our water and sewer line and infrastructure so that's not a good deal,” says Chief Financial Officer Jim Dockery.

Maintenance work left untreated could eventually affect water quality.

And as the emergency water reuse pipeline will soon be recycling water back into the pipes, Dockery says it's time to start budgeting for the permanent project, so they can get it in place as soon as possible.

“We're facing 29 million estimated cost to build the permanent reuse water system to Lake Arrowhead and we will be borrowing monies to pay for that project and there will be an annual debt service,” says Dockery.

And that project plus the possibility of construction of a new reservoir for the future Lake Ringgold will take some extra cash. Right now, the city is in the preliminary stages of considering a 29% water rate increase. This means if you use the average amount of water, 5 thousand gallons a month, your bill could go from 28 dollars a month to 36 dollars. But, the city is looking into ways to lesson that hike.

“We're gonna explore some other funding opportunities, potentially with the water development board. We're also going to be evaluating our rate structure to see if we need to do anything differently there with the base rate versus the volume charge rate,” says Dockery.

City councilors could be discussing the water hikes this summer and if passed they would take effect in October.

The permit has been submitted for the permanent reuse project. Although it is estimated to cost 29 million dollars, the city is still waiting to hear from the TCEQ on what will be required for the project. That estimate could change.

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