San Antonio City Council today put you on the hook for not one but two straight years of rate hikes by the San Antonio Water System, approving a two year packages of rate hikes which will cost the average customer about $5 extra per month, 1200 WOAI news reports.
“Its basic certainty and stability,” SAWS President Robert Puente said. “Our projects are multi year, multi million dollar projects, and they require a lot of planning. This requires our staff to be able to concentrate on those.
There was no opposition on City Council to the rate hike. The only debate was over it should be simply for this year, or cover the coming two years. Many council members thought it would be a poor use of SAWS resources to require the utility to return to Council next fall and make another rate hike request presentation.
Council members praised SAWS for it’s efforts to cut the rate hike request, which was originally pegged at more than 10%.
Puente said the money will be used for a multitude of factors, including bringing water from the new SAWS deslination plant into the city, as well as acquiring water from the Carrizo Aquifer and other sources.
SAWS is also obligated to spend more than a half billion dollars repairing its crumbling sewer system under a concent order with the U.S. Environemtnal Protection Agency.
But SAWS didnt’ get off the hook that easily. Several citizens, includign Margaret Day of the San Antonio Chapter of the Sierra Club, took the utility and the city to task for not doing more to encourage conservation.
“Over watering and run off alone, it is now calculated, wastes about one sixth of our total water usage,” she said.
Day said climate change is likely to convert the San Antonio area climate to one more closely resembling Phoenix, and the city has to mandate water conservation efforts, includign banning St. Augustine and other water thirsty plants and grasses.
“Limit or pentalize certain types of water guzzling plants, limit wasteful irrigation systems and other practices,” she recommended.