Alongside completion of the FY 2019-20 budget during public deliberations in August and September, The Colony City Council approved mechanisms for funding important upgrades to the Stewart Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP).
The upgrades represent the next phases of a years-long process already underway to ensure the facility is operating at a level in line with continued growth and economic development, as well as to meet mandated guidelines set by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
In order to fund Phases II and IIA, which are estimated to cost a total of about $51 million, residents and businesses will experience a 5% increase to their utility rate effective Oct. 1, 2019. It is the first of five annual increases of the same percentage between now and 2023. The bulk of the funding (about $40 million) is needed for continued expansion of the WWTP’s capacity in order to reach 6.1 million gallons per day as required by TCEQ. Much of the funding will also go toward upgrading the facility’s critical dewatering systems at a cost of about $11 million, among other improvements.
A similar rate increase to fund Phase I took place between 2013 and 2017. Phase I also included an expansion of the WWTP, which began in 2016 and was wrapped up earlier this year. The expansion brought the plant’s treatment capacity up to 4.5 million gallons per day. Other Phase I projects have included upgrades to aging water towers, pump stations, and associated control systems.
The city has always striven to deliver the best water and wastewater service to its residents and businesses while at the same time doing its best to manage the costs of providing those services. However, given the city’s continued growth and development, it can no longer delay rate increases vital to fund repairs and upgrades needed to maintain critical components of its infrastructure.
Understanding the impact a rate increase can have on a home or business budget, the rate increases have been phased-in beginning with the first increase in 2019, and each subsequent year for five years. This equates to an increase of approximately $5.00 per month to a customer’s bill each year.
The City Council and city staff will continue monitoring utility rates and revenues going forward in the hopes an opportunity arises to lower the rates back down.