EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The typical residential customer getting service from El Paso Water will see an increase of $9.03 a month if a proposed budget is passed by the utility’s governing board.

That will amount to a 13 percent increase for water, wastewater and stormwater charges compared to last year.

Tuesday night, the Public Service Board, which oversees El Paso  Water, heard a presentation on the proposed  Fiscal Year 2023-24 budget.

“A combination of inflation, hiring and retention challenges, as well as the need for critical investments in our system, contribute to the increases,” said El Paso Water President and CEO John Balliew. “We strive to balance those needs while protecting affordability.”

The water utility is managing myriad challenges amid urgent infrastructure needs, Balliew said.

The utility cites the following needs – via surveys and focus groups:

• Reliability – $428 million: Water and wastewater pipes, tanks, plants and pump stations are overdue for replacement and rehabilitation.

• Water supply – $53 million: Well rehab and new well construction are included, as well as the Aquifer Storage and Recovery Project in Northeast El Paso.

• Flood control – $70 million: Projects focus on new ponds and improvements to existing ponds and pipes.

The largest single proposed investment will go to the 31-year-old Roberto R. Bustamante Wastewater Treatment Plant, which requires a capacity increase because of growth on the city’s East Side, utility officials said.

The plant currently treats 39 million gallons a day but needs to expand to 51 million gallons a day, El Paso Water officials said.

The estimated costs over five years will total $730 million.

El Paso Water also urges conservation as a means for customers to reduce the impact of rate and fee increases.

El Paso Water is also proposing the following for the PSB to consider:

• The Water Supply Replacement Charge will be waived for customers using less than 4 CCFs monthly. An estimated 48,000 low-water users may be eligible for a waiver of $14 a month.

• An increased water volume from 4 CCFs (2,990 gallons) to 5 CCFs (3,740 gallons) included in the monthly minimum charge: An estimated 18,000 customers may save $6 a month.

• Shifting infrastructure costs in outlying areas to those who benefit: The Sustainable Infrastructure Surcharge is a fixed monthly fee determined by meter size that will apply only to new metered homes and businesses. The SIS does not apply to existing customers.

The board will vote on the FY2023-24 budget, including rates and fees, during the Jan. 11, 2023, meeting. If approved, the budget, rates and fees will go into effect at the start of the fiscal year, beginning March 1, 2023.

Members of the public who wish to comment on the proposed budget and rates are invited to attend the Dec. 14 or Jan. 11 PSB meetings. Also, comments may be emailed to publicaffairs@epwater.org through Jan. 10. Written comments will be summarized at the Jan. 11 meeting, when the PSB will make a final determination on the budget and rates.