Metro Water customers on the northwest and east sides will pay about $3 a month more for their water due to a rate increase.
Warren Tenney, Metro’s assistant general manager, told the Star in October that the rate increase was due in part to falling demand, which is projected to dip about 2 percent for the second consecutive year, marking the company’s lowest levels in its 19 years of operation.
Tucson Water has also seen a decline in water use, serving less potable water to customers than it did in 1995. Widespread conservation efforts and environmentally conscious landscaping have led to the drop in demand.
The utility, at 6265 N La Cañada Drive, voted 5-0 at an Oct. 28 board meeting to increase rates and fees to account for the $3 increase for the average customer’s bill, which will go from $45.20 to $48.20 beginning this month.
Metro raised the base water availability rate by $2 per residential customer, as well as the water resource utilization fee from 10 to 20 cents per 1,000 gallons, which should add up to $1 a month for most customers.
The latter fee goes to projects that help Metro use its Central Arizona Project water and effluent.
In addition to the northwest and east sides, Metro serves areas on the southwest side of Tucson, totaling 20,000 customers.
Mike Land, Metro’s chief financial officer, said the rate increases will help the company avoid financial difficulties.
“We pretty much looked at our overall finances, and we have to meet a ratio for our bond covenants,” he said. “Based on projections coming up, we are very close to being in default of that ratio, so this rate increase we’re looking at leaves us in good standing.”
Land said customers were generally understanding about the increase, but three customers at a board meeting spoke out against it.
There was no division among the board, which recognized the increase was a necessity, Land said.
“From a financial standpoint, in order to make sure we are in the guidelines in meeting the bond covenants, it was something we needed to address.”