PSB reviews FY2022-23 proposed budget

Budget prioritizes future water supply, rehabilitation, and increased flood control

EL PASO – El Paso Water staff presented the proposed Fiscal Year 2022-23 Water/Wastewater and Stormwater budgets to the Public Service Board on Tuesday evening. The proposal included a 9% increase in water rates, a 13% increase in wastewater rates, and 9% increase in stormwater fees. If approved, the combined budgets will result in an increase of $6.37 per month on the typical residential bill.

“We must continue to invest in our systems to ensure safety, reliability and resiliency,” said EPWater President and CEO John Balliew. “This year proved to be challenging with two major events that impacted our stormwater and wastewater systems. We heard many community voices demanding better, and we are committed to delivering on that.”

EPWater staff presented funding priorities, which included: securing the city’s water future, rehabilitation of aging infrastructure to improve reliability; expanding systems to meet the needs of growth in El Paso; improving resiliency to manage extreme weather events in compliance with new state standards; and prioritizing areas with high flood risk to improve public safety.

The largest single proposed investment is a $500 million expansion and upgrades project over the next few years to the Roberto R. Bustamante Wastewater Treatment Plant that will extend the plant’s lifespan by 30 years and serve the growing east side of the city.

The board was presented with two alternatives to consider for the stormwater budget, both of which included a 9% fee increase.

  • Alternative 1 allows for $50 million in projects in 2022-23, with a strategic prioritization of Stormwater Master Plan projects, totaling $357 million in infrastructure investments over 10 years. This option includes projections for modest to no annual fee increases over the next decade.
  • Alternative 2 allows for $70 million in projects in 2022-23, accelerating completion of all the projects in the Stormwater Master Plan, totaling $700 million in infrastructure investments over 10 years. This option includes projections for several slightly higher annual increases of about one dollar over the next decade.

To respond to concerns of affordability, EPWater has partnered with Project BRAVO and Amistad to provide customer assistance for those who qualify. Customers can also save on their monthly bill through conservation. Customers using less than 4 ccfs* (2,990 gallons) of water in any given month will receive a waiver of the $12.88 Water Supply Replacement Charge.

The board will vote on the FY 2022-23 budget, including rates and fees, during the January 12, 2022 meeting. If approved, the budget, rates and fees will go into effect at the start of the fiscal year, which begins March 1, 2021.

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