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Austin water bill increase possibly due to conservation

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It seems people are doing a good job of conserving water. So good, that now they'll have to pay more for it.

Since outdoor water restrictions are in place, residents are still encouraged to conserve. It's confusing to many after their past success is resulting in a possible dent in their wallet.

Austin Water

heard from some residents at a meeting Wednesday night.

The utility says the drought, plus conservation efforts, has caused them to fall behindon theirr budget by $11 million. They predict by the end of the summer thatwill dropp to $37 million.  In order torecover somee of those costs they are proposing rate increases. Employees say thisis necessaryy to keep the utility company financially stable.

The rate increase projected for 2015 is about 15.2% and would take effect this November.That's just an early forecast and could be higher or lower after alloptions aree considered. There is also a drought rate that is being proposed, meaningan addedd fee on your bill.

"If the drought continues and our lake levels continue to fall to where we haveto enactt stage three or stage four water restrictions, then we would have a setan automaticc rate increase that would go into effect," said David Anders,Finance and Business Service for Austin Water.

"The drought and customer conservation efforts do not support the waterutilities requestt for a budget increase. During a drought, a well-run utility willhave costss go down, not up. When you pump less water you will have lowerenergy costss, when you treat less water you have lower chemical costs," saida concernedd resident.

This year the utility has already made a 5% cutback in non-personnel costs; thawould rollll over to next year's budget.

They also looked at their capital spending plan and have reduced that significantly.

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