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Tempe Water Rate Changes On The Horizon

Tempe City Council will this fall consider new utility rates for the upcoming year.

The average household (which uses about 10,000 gallons) could see a 3.3 percent increase in their water bill, according to Tempe’s estimates. The city will also consider solid waste and flood irrigation prices.

Last year, the city of Tempe canceled water rate increases amid concerns from residents.

“There was a new structure that came about in 2016, so it increased the rates and a lot of higher users kind of really saw that,” said Gretchen Baumgardner, Tempe’s water resource manager. The new rate structure would decrease the price of water for those users. For example, the bill for 50,000 gallons of water would drop about 2 percent.

Tempe uses a tiered water rate system. The more water you use, the more you pay for each thousand gallons.

“It’s based on the first two tiers being essential indoor use, and as it climbs up higher and price goes up, it’s based on outdoor use,” Baumgardner said. Outdoor use is more variable depending on the weather, which stresses the system, for example, in the summer months. 

Here’s the rate structure for single-family households right now:

  •  1-6,000 gallons are $1.79 per thousand gallons.
  • 7-12,000 gallons are $2.24 per thousand gallons.
  • 13-20,000 gallons are $3.36 per thousand gallons.
  • More than 20,000 is $5.04 per thousand gallons.

Tempe staff is recommending a fifth tier for users who exceed 40,000 gallons of water a month. These users would pay $5.10 in the proposed structure.

“We want it to be fair and equitable, but at the same time we want to have a conservation message so people understand that water is one of our limited resources,” Baumgardner said.

There are two meetings left where residents can voice their concerns and questions to Tempe staff in person:

  • Saturday, Sept.  23, Arizona Community Church, 9325 S. Rural Road. - 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 27, Tempe History Museum, 809 E. Southern Ave. - 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Mariana Dale rustles up stories as a senior field correspondent based out of KJZZ’s East Valley Bureau in Tempe. She’s followed a microphone onto cattle ranches, to the Dominican Republic and many places in between. Dale believes in a story’s strength to introduce us to diverse perspectives, inspire curiosity and hold public leaders accountable for their actions. She started at KJZZ on the digital team in 2016 and still spends a lot of time thinking about how to engage with our community online. Dale has learned from stints at Arizona Public Media, The Arizona Daily Star, The Arizona Republic and as an intern at NPR’s Morning Edition in Culver City. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Dale is grateful for the mentoring of the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, the Chips Quinn Scholars program and AIR’s New Voices Scholars. A desert native, she loves spending time outside hiking, tending to her cactus and reading.