FARMERS BRANCH ~ The record rainfall of 2015 in addition to a legal battle over the source for local drinking water is combining for a perfect storm the will likely result in higher water and sewer rates for the new fiscal year.
Most costs associated with water service come from Dallas Water Utilities, the City’s water provider, and the Trinity River Authority, the City’s wastewater service provider.
“About 80 percent of our water and sewer expenses come from fixed costs that are passed along to us by the Trinity River Authority and Dallas Water Utilities,” said Farmers Branch Managing Director of Finance and Administration Charles Cox. “In addition to that, local water sales are down 15 percent, or about $3 million, because of the record rainfall this spring.
“When it rains, people don’t buy water, but when it rains a lot, those numbers become even more pronounced."
In addition, because of the record rains, the Trinity River Authority has been processing approximately twice as much wastewater as normal, resulting in additional costs for pumping operations and chemicals.
If that weren't enough, the TRA is also reporting infrastructure damage from all the water that totals $2 million.
Finally, Dallas Water Utilities has said that it’s protracted legal battle with the Sabine River Authority over access to the Lake Fork water supply will result in $10 million in costs being passed down to its customers of treated and raw water, including the City of Farmers Branch.
“At this time, in order to answer those additional costs, we have proposed a 15 percent increase in water and sewer rates for the 2015-2016 fiscal year budget,” Mr. Cox explained. “For water customers with average consumption, that translates to $11.43 per month.”
The City Council will vote on the new budget in September, in advance of the new fiscal year, which will begin October 1.