North Texas cities want local water rates reviewed

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Garland, Mesquite, Plano and Richardson are joining forces in asking the state’s Public Utility Commission to review water rates set by the North Texas Municipal Water District.

The mayors of the four cities met Wednesday morning for a press conference. They’re upset about being bound to a six-decade old water supply contract that seems to penalize the public for conserving water.

“Member cities pay according to a ‘take or pay’ system that is based on our greatest sing year of use. This level cannot be reduced, regardless of whether or not the city uses the entire amount of water it is paying for,” said Plano City Manager Bruce Glasscock.

The four cities said over the past few years they’ve paid for a total of $178 million worth of water they did not use because of drought and new water conservation efforts. They claim NTMWD rates have gone up more than 69 percent since 2012.

Essentially residents are using less water, yet paying much more for it.

"We filed this water rate review to seek a rate methodology that is equitable, encourages conservation and serves the region's long-term interest," Glasscock said.

In response, the NTMWD said it is disappointed by the action. It claims for the past year it has been meeting with all 13 of its member cities to try to come up with a solution that benefits them all.

“We recognize the concerns of the four cities (Garland, Mesquite, Plano and Richardson), but the district must also consider the positions of the other nine (Allen, Farmersville, Forney, Frisco, McKinney, Princeton, Rockwall, Royce City and Wylie),” the NTMWD said.

It had hoped the cities would continue working to reach an agreement on a change.

“While water service costs have increased across the U.S., the district’s wholesale cost for treated water delivered to the cities we serve is one of the lowest in the state and only a quarter of a penny per gallon,” the district said.

The four cities said negotiations have gone on long enough and asking the PUC for a review is the next step.

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