Back in June, Houston city leaders approved an increase in water and sewage fees, which have not gone up since 2010.
Now, rates will increase each year for the next five years. So as of Sept. 1, a home that uses around 3,000 gallons of water will pay $4 more per month in the first year. Eventually, it will rise to an additional $11 per month by 2026, a 78% increase over current rates.
The increase was originally slated to take place on July 1, but an amendment was passed to delay the increase by two months. City leaders cite educating the public as the reason for the later start date.
Future increases will occur on April 1 of each year.
ORIGINAL STORY: Houston water fee hike approved by city council
The city said back in June that nearly 60% of single-family residential customers may have had a $5 or less increase on their July bill, and that some utility bills may go down.
But, everyone's situation is different.
If you go to this water and wastewater charge calculator, you can enter your usage in 1,000 gallons. Note that this is only for single family residential water accounts, but additional calculators are expected to be added.
Once you hit "calculate," you'll get the breakdown in charges for water and wastewater. You can register online to get information specific to you and your usage history.
If you have trouble paying your bills, you can see if you qualify for an interest-free payment agreement.
Go to the "New Rates" page and scroll down to "Utility Bill Assistance" for resources on how to get help. The Water Aid to Elderly Residents, or W.A.T.E.R. Fund is also available. It helps low income senior, low income disabled and other low income customers with receiving up to $100 within a six-month period. Contact customer service at 713-371-1400.
The updates are expected to help pay for the following:
- Resources to continue water and wastewater services
- Maintenance of water and wastewater infrastructure
- Reduced water main breaks
- reduced sanitary sewer overflows
- Improved resilience against hurricanes, freezes and climate change
- Ability to comply with federal regulations rather than pay penalties for violations caused by lack of investment
It's also recommended that residents look at ways that they can save water.
- Check and fix any leaks
- Install water efficient appliances
- Review your utility bill each month
- Only run the washing machine and dishwasher when you have a full load
- Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth
City staff based the increases on a study commissioned back in 2019. Officials say it's industry best practice to update water and wastewater rates at least every five years.
The combined bill, according to the study, will increase from about $82 a month to $132 a month over 5 years.
The city of Houston has compiled a FAQ section related to the bill increase. For more information on the changes, visit the city's website.
The video above is from a June 2021 report when it was announced that city council had approved the fees.