Fort Worth water and sewer rates going up; possible 6.1 percent on typical monthly bill

By Scott Nishimura

All classes of Fort Worth residential and business water and sewer customers would see their rates rise under proposed increases revealed Thursday, with the monthly bill of a typical residential user increasing by $3.31 per month.

The typical residential bill would rise by $2.11 per month, and sewer bill by $1.20 per month, Frank Crumb, the city’s water director, told Mayor Betsy Price and City Council members in a presentation on the department’s proposed 2015 budget. That amounts to a 6.1 percent increase to $57.17 on the typical bill, but the proposed rate increases vary by usage and type of customer.

Monthly service charges for all users would rise, to help stabilize water and sewer revenues. Those have been declining with conservation, but costs have gone up at the same time because of factors like higher expense for buying raw water and treating sewer flow, and the water department has been moving to recover more of its budget from fixed revenue.

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“We just think it’s prudent to raise the service charge and stabilize that revenue a little bit,” Crumb said in an interview.

Examples of some of the proposed increases, which City Council members would vote on in September as part of the overall budget approval:

  • Residential, first eight hundred cubic feet in monthly volume: $2.07, up from $1.97; eight to 20 CCF, $2.96, up from $2.80. Ninety percent of customers fall under those two classes, water officials said.
  • Irrigation (separation irrigation meter, with no wastewater): first 50 CCF, $2.96, up from $2.80;
  • Commercial, all volumes: $2.43 per CCF, up from $2.30.
  • Industrial, all volumes: $2.35 per CCF, up from $2.25.
  • Super user (MillerCoors and Lockheed Martin), all volumes: $2.02 per CCF, up from $1.85.
  • Gas well drilling, all volumes: $5.14 per CCF, up from $4.79.

One hundred cubic feet equals 748.1 gallons.

The monthly water service charge would rise to $10 from $9 for customers who have 5/8’’ and 3/4’’ meters, and to $18.15 from $14.75 for customers who have 1’ meters.

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Proposed monthly wastewater rate increases:

  • Residential: $3.13 per CCF, up from $3.
  • Non-monitored commercial and industrial: $3.97, up from $3.84.
  • Monitored commercial and industrial: $2.71, up from $2.67.
  • Biochemical oxygen demand: 26.68 cents per pound, up from 26 cents per pound.
  • Total suspended solids: 12.15 cents per pound, up from 11.84 cents per pound.

The monthly wastewater service charge would rise to $5.50 from $5.10 for 5/8” and 3/4” meters, and to $6.60 from $6 for 1” meters.

The water department’s proposed 2015 budget is $402.2 million, up 4.08 percent from 2014.

Fifty three percent of the water increases are from higher costs for raw water, which have continued to increase. Sixteen percent of the proposed increase is due to a proposed pay increase for the city’s general employees.

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Thirty three percent of the proposed sewer increase is to due to higher expense for having the Trinity River Authority treat sewer flows, 21 percent is from higher expense for treating bio-solids, and 16 percent from the pay increase.

City Council members continued to urge conservation, maintaining North Texas water authorities will be able to hold off the expense of major water infrastructure projects with greater conservation.

“Water is really one of those things that until the last few years, people just took for granted,” Mayor Betsy Price said. “While nobody likes the increases, it just is something that we have to think about long-term.

“I’m real pleased with the conservation efforts we’ve seen,” Price said. “It’s really the next oil. The city will have no growth without adequate water supply.”