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Oklahoma City water rate increases take shape

Policymakers will consider proposal to raise OKC rates, charge biggest users more and increase fee to hook up a new home to the system.
by William Crum Published: June 4, 2014

Policymakers moved closer Tuesday to recommending water rate increases for Oklahoma City residents and for surrounding communities that buy the city’s drinking water.

The Water Utilities Trust agreed on the broad outlines of a three-year plan to phase in water bill increases and raise the fee to hook up a new home to city water.

A similar plan reviewed last month showed an average household would pay about $60 per month for water and sewer service after three years, a 17 percent increase over the current average $51.60.

Increases under the latest plan would vary only slightly from those figures, said utilities director Marsha Slaughter.

Rate increases are intended to promote conservation and pay for an upgraded water distribution system, including a second pipeline to bring water from southeast Oklahoma.

Significant provisions include:

•A pricing strategy that produces 5 percent more revenue each year, with an overall reduction of 4.3 percent in water use after five years.

•A three-year plan to increase the charge to hook up a new home — known as the “impact fee” — from $100 to $1,000, in $300 increments.

•A strategy to make sure surrounding communities pay equitable rates for water bought from Oklahoma City and that they share in system improvement costs.

Water managers expect to spend about $2.1 billion over the next 10 years to finance system improvements, including the new Atoka pipeline to ship water from reservoirs in southeast Oklahoma.

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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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By the numbers

Water use in OKC

Water managers say system improvements planned over the next decade amount to a “lifetime investment” by Oklahoma City in dependable drinking water supplies.

•Current average household water use: 7,000 gallons per month.

•Residential users comprise 89 percent of the customer base.

•Anticipated cumulative rate increase after five years: about 30 percent.

•Conservation target after five years: 4.3 percent, or about 300 gallons per month per customer.


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