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Phoenix could see hikes in water, wastewater rates by 2025

Posted 4/17/23

The Phoenix Water Services Department is proposing a rate increase with early estimates showing the average single-family residential paying up to 46% — around $12 — more for monthly …

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Phoenix could see hikes in water, wastewater rates by 2025


The Phoenix Water Services Department is proposing a rate increase with early estimates showing the average single-family residential paying 26% more for water and 20% more for wastewater — around $12 — more for monthly water and wastewater services by March 2025.

The department said the change was necessary to keep up with aging infrastructure and inflation, which impacted major expenses including a 136% increase in chemical costs like chlorine from 2019.

“Nobody wants rate increases,” the city’s Assistant Director of Water Services Nazario Prieto said during a South Mountain Village Planning Committee meeting. “Most of the time when we’re asking for a rate increase it’s primarily to try to not fall too far behind in replacement of aging infrastructure because when you look at our pipelines and how the city of Phoenix grew, there were specific decades where there was a lot of pipe installed. Well, that pipe has about a 75-year life, so at some point we have to spend more money to get to it.”

If approved, the proposal will be implemented over the next couple of years with a 6.5% increase to water and wastewater services starting in October of this year. Another 6.5% increase will be added to both services in March 2024. Then in March 2025, water services will see a 13% increase and wastewater will see a 7% increase.

The rate hikes are part of a package of policy changes proposed by city officials that will include changing the water allowance structure, which could result in up to an additional $4 charge if customers exceed their allowance.

“With that allowance difference, one of the things we tried to identify is how residents could compensate for that decrease by looking at opportunities to conserve water,” Deputy Water Services Director Kyry Tek said at the meeting. “From our own staff analysis, we believe there’s opportunity to reduce landscape water use and potential leaks. So if you address those two areas we believe you can save a lot of water.”

The proposed allowance would reduce the current water volume of 10 units (7,480 gallons) to eight units (5,984 gallons) per household during the warmer months of June-September; and from six units (4,488 gallons) to five units (3,740 gallons) during the cooler months of October-May.

In 2022, the average single-family residential consumption was 9,509 gallons per month — more than 2,000 gallons over the current allowance, according to water services.

Despite the rate increase, Phoenix would continue to have some of the most affordable water out of the 25 largest cities in the country, the department notes.

“I really don’t care that other cities pay more than we do,” South Mountain Village Planning Committee member Kay Shepard said. “It seems like you’re justifying to us that because it’s so cheap, you need to raise it.”

To help mitigate costs, the department provides water-conserving resources on its website like their water usage calculator, which provides an estimated optimal monthly water usage report based on a few pieces of information about your household. There’s also a tool that will estimate how much your water bill will increase if the proposal’s approved.

A formal city council meeting to vote on the rate increase will take place Wedneday, June 28, and, if approved, will be implemented this October.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the rates would rise more than what Phoenix officials said. The story has been changed in the first paragraph to reflect the actual percentage rates that would be changed.

Devin Harrell is a student reporter at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications.