SAWS To Ask For $2.59 Rate Increase For Average Water Customer

Sep 25, 2013

The San Antonio Water System has announced its proposed rate increase for customers and leaders with the utility will soon approach the city council members for their consideration.

SAWS wants an increase of 5.1 percent -- about $2.59 to the average monthly bill -- to fund new water sources and address wastewater compliance initiatives that the Environmental Protection Agency require.

The original rate increase proposal was 13.5 percent, but leaders said they found ways to cut operational expenses and eliminated 41 positions to save $10 million.

In addition to the 5.1 percent increase for 2014, SAWS said it has come up with a 2015 rate increase projection that officials said is reduced by nearly half, from 9 percent.

Leaders from CPS Energy have already started the process of approaching the San Antonio City Council to request a rate increase.

“We are committed to operating more efficiently so our ratepayers can continue to receive a high level of service at the lowest possible price,” said Robert R. Puente, SAWS president and CEO.

A SAWS news release said almost half of the rate increase would go toward finding additional water sources. It also touted SAWS' past investments in water supply projects to help the city avoid tighter water restrictions during the drought.

According to SAWS, a new pipeline will be built in southern Bexar County to deliver treated water from a desalination plant in 2016. But additional revenue for the utility is also to help shore up SAWS' sewer spill rates to meet EPA requirements and replace or repair aging infrastructure.

If the increase is approved and CPS Energy also gets its requested 4.75 percent increase adding $5.19 to the average electric and gas bill, customers will be paying a total of $7.78 more per month for the services.

“We understand some families struggle to pay their bills, so our commitment to low rates is aided by affordability programs to assist the disabled, senior citizens, victims of domestic abuse, and other customers who qualify," Puente said.

A similar program is offered by CPS Energy, which officials said would help low income families with more than $12 is savings each month, more than half of the requested rate increase.

The SAWS affordability programs help almost 20,000 qualifying customers each month, said the utility. The SAWS Board of Trustees will review the rate increase next week and present its case to the city council before a vote in November.

If it is approved, customers will begin seeing the increase starting in January, with the CPS Energy hike to start in February, if approved.