Wichita Falls Raises Wholesale Water Rates

- Water use is under tight restrictions, which could get even tighter as Stage 4 water restrictions approach.

And with less water now being used, the city of Wichita Falls has less revenue coming in to pay for the water treatment and delivery.

Wichita Falls, which supplies wholesale water to smaller cities as well as other water supply companies says it has many fixed costs when it comes to their operations.

Wichita falls residents have already seen a water hike, and now the wholesale customers will see one too.

In this drought water is becoming more precious than oil and a water well almost as profitable as an oil well.

Wichita Falls officials met with wholesale water customers Friday morning, discussing the new rates which will be coming soon.
The price: a whopping 137% higher than last year.

Burkburnett, one of Wichita Falls' wholesale customers, already raised their rates in July by $2 per one thousand gallons. But they say even that raise won't be enough to cover what's to come.

“If we go into Stage 4 water restrictions that is going to drive the consumption down but we still have fixed costs that you have to pay, so you have an inverse relationship between the rates and the consumption and the cost so it's just something we have to look at and adjust on a regular basis,” said Chester Nolen, Burkburnett's interim city manager.

Iowa Park will also endure the new hike in price, but because the city didn't lower prices two years ago when water was cheaper for them.

Officials say the pain for their residents shouldn't be as bad.

“They are probably looking at a base rate increase in the area of about 40% and then for the gallons per thousand probably about a 50% increase,” said Michael Price, Iowa Park's city manager.

Wichita Falls says prices are re-evaluated every year from the prior year's data, but because of the drought, recent year's prices have seen dramatic shifts.

“They are really kind of rebounding from a year ago when they went down considerable and one of the problems in the rate settle principles that we've agreed to,” said Jim Dockery, Wichita Falls Asst. City Manager.

Changing the system to an average of the past 3 to 5 years rather than only the previous year is in the works, but the only relief from high prices is rain, and lots of it.

After today's meeting cities like Iowa Park and Burkburnett said they'll have their own budget meetings.

They say they should be able to decide their new rates for residents in their cities sometime in September.

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