Rate increases approved by City Council in September will appear on January water bills resulting in an increase to residents of approximately $5 per month, depending on water usage.
The city's utility system is self-supporting, and no property taxes are spent on the system. Sugar Land has not increased surface water rates since 2014, and water and wastewater rates have not increased since 2011. A 5 percent rate increase for water and wastewater and 10 percent for surface water were approved through the fee ordinance.
The requirement to convert 60 percent of total water demand to alternative or non-groundwater supplies by 2025 is an unfunded mandate of the Fort Bend Subsidence District Regulatory Plan.
The city formed the Integrated Water Resource Plan (IWRP) Citizen Task Force in 2017 to identify the most appropriate ways to meet the mandate that best fit the Sugar Land community's vision for the future. This led to City Council's approval of the IWRP this year.
Residential water is billed with a monthly service charge plus volumetric charges based on water used. Wastewater is billed with a monthly service charge plus volume based on the winter average -- calculated based on water usage from the most recent February and March bills.
Residents can influence future wastewater charges by avoiding outdoor watering during the months of January through March. The new winter average will take effect on the April bill.
"Even though these increases are necessary as the city prepares to meet the 60 percent groundwater reduction mandate, winter is a great time to check for water leaks to minimize future bills," said Director of Finance Jennifer Brown.
Residents will also see a 47 cent increase to the solid waste portion of their bill, based on a 2.5 percent CPI increase included in the city's contract with Republic Services. The new monthly solid waste charge is $19.38 plus tax, with no changes to solid waste and recycling services.
As the city implements the IWRP recommendations and prepares to meet the 60 percent groundwater reduction mandate, future increases will be needed due to the amount of infrastructure investment required to serve the city's water supply needs. A utility rate study is funded in this year's budget to help define a rate structure that best supports the financial sustainability of the water utility system- which is not supported by property taxes.
Sugar Land's water and wastewater rates were approximately 20 percent below the group average in a 2019 survey of peer cities with a population of more than 50,000 -- even compared to cities that don't have a groundwater reduction mandate.
To learn more about utility rates, visit www.sugarlandtx.gov/2020Rates.
Well, it is official...I will now pay more to the city for my water bill than I do for my electricity. It has been higher than my gas bill for some time but now...it will be my highest bill of the month for utilities. For fixed income families this will be quite an adjustment.