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Looming shortages on Colorado River could lead to a water rate increase for Phoenicians

Posted at 6:10 PM, Dec 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-05 23:53:26-05

Aging infrastructure and looming water cuts from the Colorado River could have you paying more for water as early as next year.

Lake Mead, along the Colorado River, acts as our water storage container. Right now it sits at an elevation 1,078 feet, if drops just three more feet, Arizona would be the first to take water cuts. The City of Phoenix is looking to stay ahead of these looming cuts with the help of a rate hike.

“We have enough water resources,” said Troy Hayes, with City of Phoenix Water Services Department. “We just need to be able to move it to where we need to send it to.”

Experts predict water cuts by the year 2020 and Phoenix has been preparing for them by storing water in a vast underground plane. Trillions of gallons sitting below our feet, the only problem is the limited access to this water and getting that water delivered to spots around the Valley that would normally be served by Colorado River water.

“What we're talking about is drilling excess well capacity, putting in pump stations and pipelines to move the supplies that we have in the southern part of Phoenix to be able to move that up into the northern part,” said Hayes.

The potential water cuts combined with aging infrastructure has the city estimating about $1.5 billion in work needs to be complete in the next five years to ensure clean and reliable water to Phoenix residents.

To pay for all this work, the water department is recommending a 6 percent increase for 2019 and another 6 percent the following year.

‘What we've calculated is that this comes out to about $2 a month in 2019 and an additional $2.30 a month in 2020,” Hayes said.

Phoenix City Council will be voting on the rate hike Wednesday, December 12

If it passes, City of Phoenix water customers will be paying the extra two bucks a month by February of next year.