Officials: Why water bills have doubled, tripled this month

lawn water excess

ROCKWALL – There are are two main reasons why officials say water bills have doubled, tripled and even quadrupled for many Rockwall and Northeast Dallas area homeowners the past few months.

First, costs are going up because of a series of little-known rate increases charged over the past few years by the North Texas Municipal Water District to member cities to pay for badly-needed infrastructure improvements.

City officials say they have no choice but to pass the rate increases on to residents. Many of the cities are being charged an extra 10 percent.

The 13 member cities of the North Texas Municipal Water District are Allen, Farmersville, Forney, Frisco, Garland, McKinney, Mesquite, Princeton, Plano, Richardson, Rockwall, Royse City and Wylie.

The cities are some of the fastest-growing in the country. With more people comes a need for more water.

According to NTMWD Executive Director Tom Kula, water doesn’t come without investing hundreds of millions in mammoth new projects to provide more water, such as the $1 billion Lower Bois D’Arc Creek Reservoir, the first reservoir to be built in Texas in three decades.

There’s also a $100 million pump station for the Trinity River and dredging projects for Lakes Lavon and Chapman. The district is still paying for the $300 million pipeline extension needed after zebra mussels invaded Lake Texoma.

The NTMWD and cities have less money because the water district had imposed years of water conservation restrictions in our drought-stricken area to have enough water to supply.

But although they saved water, they also sold less water and earned less to pay for infrastructure costs.

Under NTMWD’s take-or-pay system, member cities always have to pay for a set amount of water, no matter how much they conserve.

At this rate, cities won’t stop seeing at least 10 percent rate increases for another five years, according to current NTMWD projections.

Second, homeowners have been using more water since drought restrictions were lifted by the NTMWD and member cities.

For example, Fate City Manager Michael Kovacs said the City used a record amount of water – over 70 million gallons – during the hot, dry billing period of July 15 to Aug. 19.

He said outdoor water use is the main culprit.

“Customer contact so far has shown that outdoor water uses are the primary culprit. We have found many customers have returned to their pre-drought watering habits, but rates are more than in 2012-2013.”

He says many residents do have sticker shock at the cost of the progressive rates’ effect on near restriction-less outdoor water use.

“Progressive rates means the more water used, the higher the rate per 1,000 gallons,” he explained.

But he says the system is accurate.

“The City has performed over 210 account billing and meter verifications between Aug. 19th and Aug. 27th. All are coming back accurate,” he added.

If you are experiencing high water bills, experts recommend checking for issues like leaks and lowering your weekly lawn watering times. You should also contact your utility provider if you feel there is a discrepancy.

By J.J. Smith




6 Responses to Officials: Why water bills have doubled, tripled this month

  1. Mine has been about 88.00 a months steady. This one is 215.00. It’s a crock of shit

    Ray September 30, 2015 at 4:04 pm
  2. I call bullcrap. We haven’t even watered this year and none of our habits have changed; if anything, we’ve been out of town more this year. And, our bills have skyrocketed too.

    Sheryl A September 29, 2015 at 4:10 pm
  3. My bill went from $74 to $378 dollars! No change in watering habits. I called the Utility Department and talked with a very nice lady who said she couldn’t explain my bill. She asked me to call back on Tuesday because her supervisor was out for Labor Day Weekend. I called back and talked to the supervisor Kay, and from the very beginning of our conversation, she was very rude and condescending. Eventually, I had to stop her and asked her not to talk to me in that tone. I was never rude in any way, I just wanted clarification for my bill. I understand she receives hundreds of calls from angry customers, and goes on the defense immediately, but I wasn’t angry at all. In the end, she gave the same answers that you guys mentioned in your comments. I sent the city manager and assistant city manager emails, but no response yet. I’m sure i won’t get one. Greed!!!!!

    Jimmy September 9, 2015 at 6:35 pm
  4. There is no way that I am using more water than in the pre-drought years. Back then I used to water every single day. Now I water only 2 days a week and have even cut down the length of time that my sprinklers have watered. The fact that our bills have more than doubled in the last two months is crazy. This doesn’t seem to be isolated incidents. Every single person I have talked to has had their bill double in the last two months. There is nothing wrong with everyone’s meters and everyone doesn’t have a leak. I don’t buy your excuses that everyone is using more than in pre-drought years.

    Michelle September 9, 2015 at 11:09 am
  5. I have a right to know when you raise my rates. That tells me they know this water bill I have received the last two months are BS and I tired of being screwed by every company that I buy services from. From AT&T to the Toll Road bills that are not accurate and I have have to jump through hoops proving I don’t own the car any longer and still have to pay them $465 for someone else driving thru the tolls. Even gave them the info on who owns it and still l had to pay it or sit in jail. The City bill is a joke. They should pay me for the clean up I have to do every time the trash truck comes down the street Dropping fuilds in front of my house and trash flying in yard from every house that down wind that day. I use my water to clean up the City’s mess and they raise my rates. They should give me 5 k gals a month for cleaning the street after it drops nasty fuilds and smelly sewage fluid. They should send and a letter saying thank you for cleaning up our mess because we are just to busy screwing customers to mess with cleaning. I will be expecting your letter in the next coulpe of weeks city of Rockwall

    Mike September 5, 2015 at 1:18 am
  6. If the city is growing, and there are more people here to use the water, wouldn’t that mean there would be more people to pay for it? Why increase rates at the extreme of 3-4 times the amount for current accounts?

    Tawnya September 2, 2015 at 1:47 pm

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