Feb 24, 2022 - News

Des Moines' water bills are rising

An illustration of water.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Residential rates at Des Moines Water Works have increased nearly 80% since 2007 — now at $5.19 per 1,000 gallons for those who live within the city.

Driving the news: That'll raise to $5.35 on April 1.

By the numbers: Water consumption is only a small portion of the overall bill. Mine this month, for example, was $12.58, but his total bill was $81.50.

  • Surcharges for capital improvement, "water availability" and an excise tax added $7.76.
  • City sewer charges were another $55.17, and an optional water line protection plan cost $5.99.

What they're saying: Water Works CFO Amy Kahler told Axios that lots of factors go into the rates, including expenses of up to $10,000 a day to run the utility's nitrate removal facility.

The big picture: Aging infrastructure and the cost to diversify water sources is driving rates higher across the nation, according to Circle of Blue, a research group that focuses on environmental issues.

  • Average monthly costs for a family of low consumption increased more than 40% to $35.49 between 2010 and 2018, according to the group's data.

What to watch: More than a dozen metro communities are in discussions to create a regional water utility.

  • Finding efficiencies are among their goals. A plan could be operational as early as next year.
Data: Des Moines Water Works; Note: There's no data for 2013; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios
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