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Tucson Water proposes increased water rates for some customers

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 10:51 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The city of Tucson held a town hall on the proposed water rate changes, which could have some customers’ bills jumping up by 50 percent. It’s a subject that’s putting Tucson Water in hot water with its customers.

Tucson Mayor and City Council are considering eight options to increase water rates to Tucson Water customers in the unincorporated area. These options range from a 10% increase to 50%. Tucson has never charged a different rate for customers outside of the jurisdiction or incorporated area before, but city officials say most major cities do.

“With the exception of the city of Peoria, all of the Arizona cities do charge a differential rate for customers outside of the jurisdiction or their incorporated area. And that rate can be as high as 50 percent,” Tim Thomure, interim assistant city manager, said.

But the idea, of spending more money for the same amount of water, has customers heated.

“People in unincorporated areas right now are infuriated and you’re going to be met with a lot of resistance,” said Sherrylyn Y., a Tucson Water customer.

James McAdam, the moderator for the town hall tried to keep the meeting civil, “There’s some profanity popping up in the chat and please refrain from that. Just advise, if you are profane or disrespectful we will remove you from the meeting.”

Several also pointed out the timing of the proposed water rate changes in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think the timing is really poor after coming out of a pandemic. You know, I think we need a breath of fresh air and increases in water rates is not the fresh air,” Janet Thuringer, a Tucson Water customer, said.

Now, some customers in the unincorporated area are considering other options.

“If you wanted to disconnect from Tucson water and do your own well, there is a path to doing that in the unincorporated areas,” Thomure said. He estimates a successful domestic well would cost customers around $35,000.

A public hearing will be held during the Tucson city council meeting on Tuesday, June 8.

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