A hot topic item that’s been looming over the heads of everyone in Shreveport is rising water rates.
Mayor Cedric Glover’s administration is proposing at least a 26 percent increase for water and 50 percent for sewer. Over the next few years, water bills in Shreveport could more than double and in a tough economy; people in Shreveport say they can’t afford it. City officials in our area say it’s a problem that we have to take care of now because we may not be able to afford the consequences later.
Murray Lloyd says “this has gone on for quite some time and unfortunately the city just absolutely refused to address it.”
Lloyd is concerned how the city is handling future water needs and a leaky sewer system. According to data, Shreveport’s water and sewer infrastructure has needed major upgrades for years. The sewer problem has gotten so bad, the federal government has taken notice and has threatened fines if the city doesn’t clean up its act.
Since 2000, the city has spend over $200 million on water and sewer projects. The Environmental Protection Agency says that the city needs a minimum of $200 million in additional upgrades but city officials propose raising $380 million over the next ten years. That revenue would be in addition to the $70 million in construction bonds that were approved by voters two years ago.
Barbara Featherson says that we’ve been getting by with less than what is needed to run our water and sewer system for years. The bond money and higher rates will allow them to catch up.
“At no time did we indicate that this is it. Even at that time, we were able to get a little over $70 million on the sewer side and we still had unfunded needs in a book of over $200 million” says Featherson.
In an already tough economy here in the ArkLaTex, low-income families will feel the hike most. Other concerns with the spike in water rates are Shreveport businesses that use a lot of water. Some believe that the higher water rates will stop future businesses from opening in Shreveport.
Currently, if you use 3000 gallons of water a month, your water and sewer bill averages about $8.12. After the rate increase, 3000 gallons of water and sewer will cost you about $37.46 monthly. If you use more than 5000 gallons of water a month, right now you average about $39.46 but in a few months you’ll pay about $55.00. Also, those who live outside the city limits already have a higher rate than inside the city and officials say those rates will also go up.