Apr 5, 2023 - News

Phoenix considers steep water rate hike as West grapples with drought

Illustration of a faucet with a drop of water with a sad face.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Phoenix is considering three significant water rate hikes in the next two years that could have a triple-digit impact on residents's annual costs.

  • Plus, the city plans to hit users who don't conserve with a $4 monthly additional charge.

What's happening: The Phoenix Water Services Department in February proposed a 6.5% increase starting in October, another 6.5% hike next March and a 13% increase in March 2025.

  • The city is collecting public feedback on the proposal at several community meetings throughout April and May and the City Council is expected to vote on the final plan in June.

Why it matters: The rate hikes are needed to keep up with inflation and the increased costs associated with the shrinking Colorado River and Western megadrought, Phoenix water services director Troy Hayes said at a February meeting.

By the numbers: The water department has seen a 12% uptick in electricity costs and a 136% spike in chemical costs, Hayes said.

  • Additionally, drought conditions have increased the price of raw water by about 35%.

Zoom in: The average resident will see a monthly increase of $2.08 in October, $1.58 next March and $3.36 in March 2025.

  • The current average monthly cost is $38.63 in summer and $25.77 in winter.

Of note: Even with the proposed changes, Phoenix's water rates are lower than in many other western cities, such as San Diego and Austin, and cheaper than in some Valley cities including Mesa and Paradise Valley, according to a city analysis.

The intrigue: The city hopes to use the proposed additional $4 charge to encourage people to be more aware of their water usage.

  • Under the proposal, residents will see the extra charge if they use more than ​3,740 gallons per month from October through May or ​5,984 gallons per month from June through September.

Be smart: The average household used 9,509 gallons per month in 2022, but inexpensive fixes like repairing leaks and minimizing outdoor watering should be enough to prevent households from hitting the extra charge, Hayes said.

The bottom line: "Water usage is under their control. If they reduce the amount that they use, they can control their bill," Hayes told 12 News.


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