The City of Shreveport's water system is supposed to be self-supporting, meaning the customers' monthly bill should be enough to run the department.
However, there's a slow leak in the system.
As many as 20,000 people a month essentially get their water for free because of Ordinance No. 165:
"Residential class customers shall receive a monthly minimum bill based on water consumption of 3,000 gallons or less and it will be calculated utilizing the monthly water customer charge based upon meter size plus the monthly sewerage charge. Residential customer using more than the 3,000 gallons in a month will not receive a minimum offset."
Any household that uses less than 3,000 gallons a month only pays a $12 flat rate.
Water officials say they need this uncollected revenue.
"We're looking at the 3-thousand gallon issue in the face of 400-million dollars worth of water and sewage projects that are unfunded right now and necessary," said Brian Crawford, Chief Assistant Administrative Officer.
The water department has a long list of projects they want to see completed- attached is a $4,000,000 price tag. This doesn't include the day-to-day issues brought on by hot weather and the aging system.
"The summertime with extreme heats, they cause our waterlines to break," said Lonnie Fouts, Shreveport Department of Water & Sewage. "The system is old and cannot handle this hot, hot weather."
If the city started charging customers in the 3,000 gallon category it could bring in an estimated 1.3-million dollars a year.
The ordinance was first put on the books in 2008. Eligibility is based only on usage, not income level. Customers who can afford to pay their bill often don't have to.