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Austin Considers Raising Your Water Bill With Sustainability Fee

Austin Water Utility's headquarters building downtown.
Photo by Nasha Lee for KUT News
Austin Water Utility's headquarters building downtown.

Austin's Water Utility gave city council members their first look at the agency's budget needs for the 2012 fiscal year.  It includes a proposed fee that the utility says would help stabilize their revenue stream.

Water revenues are forecast to be $19 million below earlier estimates for the next fiscal year.  Utility director Greg Meszaros says the biggest factor is more people using less water.

"We see conservation being very successful, particularly after the drought of '09 when we went to Stage 2 one-day water restrictions that were heavily enforce, that that really accelerated the conservation program.," Meszaros told council members this morning.

To help offset some of that loss, Austin Water will be asking the council to consider adding a monthly fixed fee to water bills.  The proposed "sustainability fee" could generate $17 million annually.

"It would reduce volatility for us," Meszaros said.  "It would be based on the size of your meter.  So, the bigger your meter, the more you'd pay."  Average residential users would see an extra 53 cents on their bill.  Subscribers with larger water meters would pay more.

Ian Crawford joined KUT as News Editor in 2008, after spending over four years as a reporter/anchor at KLBJ Radio in Austin. He began his broadcasting career while still in high school in Southern Oregon. During high school and college at the University of Oregon, he worked at times as a reporter, news anchor, sports play-by-play reporter, music host and commercial producer before moving to Texas in 2003.