You would think otherwise, but the at times heavy bursts of rain Austin has seen since last fall have done little to ease the city’s continuing water woes. Now, with summer approaching and the water levels in Lakes Travis and Buchanan at just 36%, Austin Water Utility (AWU) is considering raising water use costs for all Austinites.
The new rates would come as a result of two things: an increase in the base water rate and what the Austin Statesman.com is calling a “drought fee.” AWU says the latter is necessary to help it recoup some of the losses it has incurred as a result of the cutbacks Austinites have made in the amount of water they use.
Austin residents have been subject to Stage 2 water restrictions that allow for sprinkler system lawn watering once a week since 2011. More severe Stage 3 restrictions may come into effect as soon as this coming July.
According to the Statesman, Austin Water Utility has lost about $27 million dollars on water sales in 2013 and expects it will lose that amount or more in 2014. That figure represents approximately 10% of AWU’s total revenue.
The utility has suggested several different fee options to a city committee, which will make a final recommendation by the end of May. AWU will then draw up a drought fee proposal that could take effect as soon as this fall if Lakes Austin and Buchanan drop below the current levels.
Some of the ideas currently under consideration include charging every AWU customer a flat fee or charging volume based-fees that would penalize the heaviest water users. Each of the different options could raise the average home water bill by more than $20 per month.
With increases in water fees on the way, there’s never been a better time to consider new strategies in lawn and garden care. The experts at South Austin Irrigation can not only help you assess the state of your irrigation system, but also provide all the advice you’ll ever need on upgrades, replacements and even general landscaping.
Water is Austin’s most precious resource. Let us help you make the most of it: contact South Austin Irrigation today!