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Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership GRCC
Galveston County
Council successfully reduces water and sewer rate increases
News Release
Tuesday, February 05, 2019

After months of study, discussion and then changes, a water and sewer rate increase of 46 percent for an average water bill was reduced to a 21 percent increase. Friendswood City Council approved the new water and sewer rates Monday night (February 4). Customers will see the higher rates in their April or May bills (in Friendswood, water and sewer customers are billed every other month).

The City’s water and sewer rates are set using a “break even” formula, meaning customers are charged for the cost of infrastructure (including funding bonds to pay for big projects) and the water itself. The higher rate will pay for new or upgraded infrastructure that is necessary to keep the clean water and wastewater systems running efficiently.

“We started with a list of infrastructure projects totaling $39 million and the task of carefully reviewing it,” said Mayor Mike Foreman. “After taking a hard look at which of these projects are absolutely needed now, and ones that would become much more expensive if we delayed  them, that number was reduced to $32.5 million, and we ‘ran’ the numbers. Then, we stretched out the number of years we will take to conduct these projects, as well as the number of years the City will take to repay the bond money that will fund the projects, and ‘ran’ the numbers again.”       

The plan Council approved at their February meeting will fund projects that ensure Friendswood residents and businesses will have clean water and efficient wastewater removal for many years to come. It increases an average homeowners’ water and sewer bill (every other month) by $30 per billing cycle, or $180 for the year. Small step increases each of the next four years were also approved.

“There is never a ‘good’ time to raise water and sewer rates,” Foreman said. “Rather than have a big increase all at once, Councilmembers thought it would be better to have small ones annually, and only when absolutely necessary. We will review it every year.”

“The timing of a few of the necessary infrastructure projects is out of the City’s control,” said City Manager Morad Kabiri. “Two examples come to mind. Our partnership with the City of Houston on a new 42-inch water main will cost $12 million. Also, we have been making temporary repairs at two of our lift stations and it is no longer feasible to continue putting off the necessary, permanent upgrades to those units.”

Part of the study process leading up to this decision was an “apples to apples” comparison of Friendswood’s water and sewer rates to surrounding cities rates. Even after the increase, Friendswood’s average residential customer (using 20,000 gallons of water every two months) will pay less every two months than the same customer in Pearland ($102 less), League City ($37 less), and Alvin ($28 less).

“Day after day, year after year, Friendswood’s water quality meets or exceeds State standards at a lower cost than neighboring cities. By investing now to repair and maintain the infrastructure. We plan to continue that track record,” said Kabiri.

Residents with questions about their water and sewer bills can call 281-996-3232 or email fwdcity@friendswood.com





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