The City of Phoenix voted Oct. 9 to notify the public that it intends to raise water rates next year and again the year after to deal with necessary maintenance and to add infrastructure to pump water to North Phoenix should an expected shortage of Colorado River water occur. The approval was not unexpected.
A final vote on the increase is planned for Dec. 12. Between now and then, the water district will educate the public on the plan and take input.
The first increase would go into effect in February 2019. The average Phoenix resident currently pays $33.62 per month for water.
Of the $1.5 billion in new revenue, $1 billion would be spent on fixing old pipes, aging pump stations and other parts of the system. Some $500 million would be used to build new pump stations and other infrastructure that would bring water up the I-17 corridor from the city’s other water sources.
Without that new infrastructure, North Phoenix would be high and dry should Colorado River water be shut off, something experts and city officials recognize as an increasingly likely possibility.
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“I am very very supportive of this,” said Mayor Thelda Williams during the council meeting. “I am very concerned for the north area [of Phoenix].” She called the water district “very cost conscious” and commended the agency’s leaders for attention to detail in the proposal. “I trust your judgement on what needs to be done,” she said.
The vote was unanimous. However, Councilman Sal DiCiccio voted for the proposal but said he’s not convinced the 6-percent increase is the right amount, but he wants the conversation to continue ahead of the planned Dec. 12 vote.
The Phoenix Water Services Department can be reached via its web site or at 602-262-6251.