Phoenix Approves 12 Percent Water Rate Hike

Published: Thursday, January 10, 2019 - 8:54am
Updated: Thursday, January 10, 2019 - 12:00pm
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Starting in March, Phoenix residents and business owners will pay more for water. On Wednesday, the city council approved a 12-percent increase over the next two years.

The latest increase comes two years after the last water rate hike. And that’s why Councilman Michael Nowakowski joined Sal DiCiccio and Jim Waring in voting no.

“I’m voting no as an advocate for those poor families that can’t take a 17 percent increase, a tax increase on water within the last five years,” he said.

Nowakowski said part of the pitch for the new 12 percent hike was to replace aging infrastructure in the central and southern parts of Phoenix, which is what he said the last hike was supposed to cover.

Mayor Thelda Williams said Phoenix is at a crossroads.

“We have always been good stewards of our water, we have been leaders in this Valley and in this state,” she said. “And our system was designed so that the Colorado River always flowed. Unfortunately, by the end of this year-and we’re saying this year- there is a potential that it will not be flowing very well for us. We are on the bottom of the tier of the people of the states that receive this water.”

The city’s water director, Kathryn Sorensen, said the increase is needed to ensure reliable delivery to the north part of the city.

“We have very limited ability to move water from the central and southern portions of our city up into north Phoenix,” she said.”We want to rectify that. We want to be ready for what comes on the Colorado River no matter what that is And we can do that. And if we invest in this infrastructure then we can take the alternative supplies that we have developed-groundwater, recharged water, water off the Salt and Verde River systems and pump them wherever they need to go across our distribution system make sure that come what may on the Colorado River our folks are going to receive reliable water delivery.”

To improve access to banked water and groundwater in areas (mostly in north Phoenix) that normally rely on Colorado River water, Phoenix is building 15 new wells which should be in place by the end of 2022. The water department says it needs to spend $1.515 billion over the next five years to cover infrastructure improvements which will also include about $525 million for rehabilitation and replacement of aging water pipelines.

Sorensen said the average customer is expected to pay $1.98 more per month this year and $2.37 cents more per month next year.

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