EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Paso Water held their first public hearing on Nov. 29 to propose their budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. This proposed budget could mean a 13% increase for consumers.

As they try to maintain affordability for their consumers, they are also facing urgency with certain projects that need rehabilitation. One major project that will cost $730 million over the span of 5 years is the Bustamante plant in Far East El Paso.

Christina Montoya, the marketing and communications manager for EP Water says the Bustamante plant needs to be addressed, in order to prevent what happened at the Frontera plant some time ago.

“We cant have something like that happen again so its not just the wastewater plants it’s the pipes it’s the pump stations its everything that’s needed to make sure that we can provide reliable service.”

Another important item on this proposed budget is the storm-water utility. A utility that was only installed in 2008, as major floods continue to be an issue for the borderland. This budget is said to increase projects to tackle the issue.

“We need to improve public safety it is a priority so that’s why for the next few years we have in our financial plan that we are going to be rates on the storm-water utility side and increasing the capitol project budget so that we can get more projects done.”

The rate increase for consumers’ utility bill will be $9.03, however one of the ways to propose affordability from EP Water is through a proposed Sustainable Infrastructure Surcharge. This proposal will shift the burden from those living in outlying areas in the Northwest, Northeast and East area of El Paso that require more infrastructure.

It will instead go to those specific people requiring that service and will not affect those who already live in developed areas.

“That’s an affordability measure in itself to try to keep the cost down and in the future probably reduce rate increases for other customers.” said Christina Montoya

The public service board has until Jan. 11, 2023, to make a decision on whether or not to approve this budget.

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