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City Council Votes 10-0 For Water And Sewer Rate Increases

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
City Council discussed the proposed water and sewer rate hikes for hours this morning before voting unanimously to approve the rate increase. The increase in rates will pay for the controversial Vista Ridge Water Pipeline in the future.
Credit San Antonio Water System
The proposed 142-mile Vista Ridge Pipeline would deliver to San Antonio water from Burleson and Milam counties. The pipeline would be funded through a water and sewer rate increase for SAWS customers.

San Antonio Water System customers will face new water and sewer rates this January after the City Council passed a series of increases this afternoon.

Council members debated the issue for more than 4 hours  before voting 10-0 in favor of the increases. District 6 Councilman Ray Lopez was absent from the vote.

The revenue from the increased rates will pay to replace aging sewer and water infrastructure and fund the controversial $3.4 billion Vista Ridge Pipeline that will pump water from Burleson and Milam counties. 

Credit Shelley Kofler / Texas Public Radio

More than 40 people with differing opinions signed up to speak.

 “We will have access to water when we don’t need it and it won’t be there when we need it in 30 to 40 years,” Attorney Amy Kastley said. 

And Banker Noah Garcia, “This rate adjustment will assure that we keep providing the quality water and water treatment for all residents into the future.”

The new rate structure would raise some bills by 15 percent over two years. The City Council’s support was unwavering including Mayor Ivy Taylor.

“I believe that ensuring our water supply and investing in our infrastructure is a key factor that will contribute to our continued economic growth,” she said.

Councilman Rey Saldana says not supporting this now would mean more expensive water later.

“We don’t want to put our residents in a position to pay more for something that we could make investment in today,” he said.

The rates approved Thursday may not be the end. There could be a total 50-percent increase by 2020 that SAWS would need council approval for by 2017.