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Oklahoma City Council sets public hearing on water rate increases

Oklahoma City Council members are set to hear public opinion on water rate increases, upgrades and conservation efforts.
by William Crum Modified: August 12, 2014 at 9:26 pm •  Published: August 12, 2014

Oklahoma City residents soon will be able to weigh in on a proposed water rate increase that would see utility bills climb by 17 percent.

The matter is set for a hearing in two weeks when the city council will take public comments on plans to upgrade the city’s water system.

The proposal is designed to promote conservation while financing the start of $2.1 billion in work needed to support projected population growth.

The centerpiece is construction of a second pipeline to pump water 100 miles from Atoka Lake in southeast Oklahoma to Oklahoma City. With the second pipeline, Oklahoma City is expected to have the capacity to meet water demand at least into the early 2040s.

If the plans are adopted, utility bills are expected to go up 17 percent, to $60.29, over the next three years for a family using 7,000 gallons of water per month, the average. A family using 15,000 gallons would be paying $90.66 per month after three years.

Bills also would rise for commercial users and for metro-area cities that buy water from Oklahoma City. About 1.3 million people in the greater metro area depend in whole or in part on Oklahoma City for water.

The council voted Tuesday to set a public hearing for Aug. 26, and plans are to adopt new rates Sept. 9.

Ward 4 Councilman Pete White, who is also chairman of the city’s Water Utilities Trust, said the plans are conservation-driven.

Residential customers who use more than 10,000 gallons per month would pay escalated rates. Consultants who devised the plan say that threshold could be adjusted and an additional threshold could be added after the first several years.

“We believe people, if we charge more for water — they’ll use less of it,” White said.

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by William Crum
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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