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Oklahoma City water rates could rise to promote conservation, pay for system improvements

Water Utilities Trust discusses proposals to keep the Oklahoma City metro area supplied with drinking water as it continues to grow.
by William Crum Published: May 20, 2014

Water rates likely are headed up in Oklahoma City, to promote conservation and pay for a new pipe to bring water from southeast Oklahoma.

The Water Utilities Trust on Tuesday discussed proposals for a new rate structure designed to collect more from all households, but particularly from those that consume the most water.

Under one proposal, an average household would see a 33.1 percent increase in its water bill after five years.

The goal is to assure the city has the estimated $2.1 billion needed over the next 10 years to keep up with growth.

About a third of that money is earmarked for construction of a second Atoka pipeline to move water to the metro area from reservoirs in the southeast, where the city owns water rights.

Water managers see little hope the North Canadian River will ever recover and say the metro will rely more than ever on southeast Oklahoma for its water.

The building program “is larger in the next 10 years than we’ve had in memory,” said Marsha Slaughter, the utilities department director.

Under the proposals discussed Tuesday, water rates would be set in blocks; the example used was 10,000 gallons.

The first block would approximate average household water consumption, which for residential customers is about 7,000 gallons per month.

The example showed average households paying rates slightly higher than they pay now for each 1,000 gallons used. The rate in excess of 10,000 gallons would be even higher to encourage conservation.

The city has about 180,000 household water customers. The average residential customer pays $51.60 per month.

Water bills include base charges for water and sewer, and additional charges in increments of 1,000 gallons for drinking water consumed and for wastewater discharged to treatment plants.

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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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