Houstonians could pay more for utilities to help improve water infrastructure, new study shows

Water and sewer rates will likely increase for Houston residents.

In 2019, the City of Houston hired Carollo Engineers Inc. to do a cost of service study on how to offset $200 million dollars in infrastructure improvements to the water and wastewater systems.

According to Houston Public Works, the water and wastewater rates have not been amended since 2010. the agency said the current rates no longer meet the financial, regulatory, service and legal goals of the Combined Utility System.

Water and sewer rates would increase yearly over a five-year period for every water and sewer customer, per Carollo’s recommendations.

For example, if a family spends a combined $83 a month for water and sewage for 6,000 gallons of water, by the following year that amount would climb roughly 9%, per the study. By 2026, that same family’s monthly water and sewer bill would jump to $132.35.

Lisa Getz spends about $75 a month for those utilities for her family of five. Getz said an increase could financially cripple a lot of families already impacted by the pandemic and winter freeze.

“I work with a lot of people who are literally living paycheck to paycheck with just getting things paid, if even that,” she said.

Liz Rodriguez said she’s on the fence about the proposed rate increase.

“I understand why the rates would go up and how much it will help. It might also devastate some people within their own households as they wouldn’t be able to afford it,” Rodriguez said.

Mayor Sylvester Turner issued a statement saying an increase is warranted because the city must have a very reliable and safe water supply. The mayor also said an upgrade to the infrastructure can protect our water supply from extreme weather conditions.

While Turner said he agrees with the study that water and sewer fees should go up, he has not said by how much.

The city council has a public hearing scheduled for April 28.