City of Phoenix residents could see their water bill go up over the next two years.
Last week, the Phoenix City Council passed a measure that will increase water rates 6.5% by 2022. The first increase — a 3% hike — will take effect later this year on Oct. 1. The second — a 3.5% increase — will be implemented in March 2022.
According to officials, the increase applies “only to the water volume charges assessed on water use above the allowance amount included in the fixed monthly service” bill.
Households that maintain their water use within those allowances wouldn’t be effected under the approved plan.
Officials estimate about 40% of households served in Phoenix maintain monthly water use below those allowance levels. The typical allowance for residential use is about 10,000 gallons per month, according to the city.
Estimates say the average single-family residential customer will see an increase of about $2.40 per month.
Supporters of the measure say more money needs to be generated to help upgrade and replace the city’s aging infrastruture and economic development within the city limits is tied to water.
“(We need to) upgrade and replace the city’s water infrastructure,” said Mr. Mike Huckins, spokesman for the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. “We started down the path now and we feel like it’s important to finish out the process over the next few years.
“...Again without water, there is going to be no economic development. No matter what the supplies are, if we don’t have the infrastructure in place to get water to residents and businesses, it doesn’t do us any good.”
Last week’s measure wasn’t the first time officials approved a water rate hike. Councilors have approved an increase six out of the past seven years.
In 2019 and 2020, councilors approved a 6% increase each of those years. Before that, rates for water rose 2% in 2017.
Since January, officials gave 16 presentations from the Ahwatukee to Estrella Village planning committees where question-and-answer sessions were held.
In a promotional video, Troy Hayes, assistant director of Phoenix Water Services, said officials need help with aging infrastructure that includes water pipes, treatment plants, pumps, reservoirs and wells.
Officials estimate rate changes will generate $29.5 million during the first full fiscal year after the rates take effect.
“The main reason for the water rate increase is to address infrastructure that we currently have in the ground that is aging,” Mr. Hayes said. “We either have to rehabilitate or replace this infrastructure so it’s reliable for decades to come.”
At the March 17 regular council meeting, Vice Mayor Thelda Williams was the first to move to approve the measure. The motion passed 6-3.
Councilor Sal DiCiccio, an opponent of raising rates, voted against the current measure.
“At some point, the city of Phoenix is going to be driving out the middle class because they pay these water bills,” Mr. DiCiccio said. “We are going to be driving out the business community.
“This is getting to the point of insanity - these constant increases on everything on the public.I’m going to be voting no on this - because sooner or later it’s going to reach a point of no return. We are almost there.”
Councilor Carlos Garcia said the passage of the measure was needed. He voted in favor of the rate change.
“It’s a tough decision,” Mr. Garcia said. “But one we have to make.”
For more information, visit https://www.phoenix.gov/waterrates