The Tucson Water Department is proposing a rate increase for all customers of about 3 percent, which would raise nearly $14 million more next year.

The department needs the money to pay for continued maintenance on 4,000 miles of pipes and 63 water reservoirs, said Fernando Molina, a department spokesman.

“We’re basically seeing an increase in our operating costs," Molina said. "We see increases just like our customers do, so we have energy costs that go up and we also have a lot of maintenance costs."

"We find ourselves in a situation where a substantial part of our costs are fixed whereas a substantial part of our revenues are variable based on how we charge for water," he said. "We're just trying to create some stability in our ability to maintain a stable revenue flow."

Three proposals for rate increases would add between $2.91 and $3.68 to the average residential water customer's monthly bill. Nearly 90 percent of the department's customers are residential. The average residential customer uses about 10,000 cubic feet of water, or 10 CCFs, as it appears on a water bill.

The department hopes to have a new rate in place by the beginning of the next fiscal year, July 1. The Tucson City Council must approve rate increase.

The increase would bring in about 8 percent more for the department, and would raise its annual revenue to $338.9 million, Molina said.

To get public feedback, and provide information to rate payers, the department is holding public meetings this month.

They are: Tuesday, May 7, El Rio Neighborhood Center, 1390 W. Speedway Blvd.
Thursday, May 9, Quincie Douglas Library, 1585 E. 36th St.
Tuesday, May 14, Randolph Regional Center Mesquite Room, 200 S. Alvernon Way.
Wednesday, May 15, William M. Clements Recreation Center, 8155 E. Poinciana Drive.