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Water bills may increase next year

El Paso Water

Your water bill may be on the increase.

El Paso Water discussed the proposed the proposed $490 million budget Monday night.

It includes a possible 8 percent rate increase, which translates to about $3.98 per month for the typical homeowner.

"The reason for the fee increase is because we have to keep up with existing projects in the master plan," said Christina Montoya, spokesperson for El Paso Water.

The master plan features several new construction projects associated with the storm water division. This past summer, drivers endured many flooded streets from the monsoon that would dump nearly 2 to 3 inches of rain in a single hour. These storm water projects should help provide relief from those flooding concerns.

"That's what they say every year and yet every time that we have strong rain storms, especially every 10 years, there's still flooding on the roadways," said Melissa Carrasco, an El Paso resident.

In Northeast El Paso, El Paso Water is finishing up construction on a project of a new storm water drain. This is off of Fairbanks drive next to the Patriot Freeway. Construction was originally suppose to be completed in summer, but is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. It should provide that relief from flooding off the Patriot Freeway as well as runoff from the Franklin Mountains. That project was possible in part due to the fee increases you've noticed for the past two years.

Now El Paso Water wants to fund more projects in Central and Northeast El Paso next year with the stormwater fee increase.

"Unfortunate," said Carrasco. "I'm definitely going to have to budget for that, in addition to my taxes going up."

The rate increase to your water usage is meant to help El Paso Water purchase a full river supply for 2018. This is something that has not happened since 2010. River water can then be treated and turned into drinking water for the city next year. But purchasing an entire supply of river water instead of just a smaller portion means rates will need to increase. Improvements to the city infrastructure is also expected to be aided by the rate increase.

Despite the expected increase, Montoya said Borderland residents do have one thing to be happy about.

"We're still going to be among the lowest in Texas," said Montoya. "We're still going to be among the lowest among arid cities in our region."

The rate hike and budget must still be approved by the Public Service Board. This is expected to happen during the utility's regular meeting on January 10.

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