Wave of changes could come to Tucson Water

Photo: Video by kgun9.com

Wave of changes could come to Tucson Water

CREATED Feb. 21, 2012
Reporter: Kevin Keen
 
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - In some cases, it was a leaky pipe, a stuck water meter or a runny toilet. In other cases, no problem was ever found. In all cases, the homeowner was stuck with paying for part of a big water bill. Nine On Your Side took the cases and complaints to Tucson Water, which told us a wave of changes may be coming for customers--a change that may come Wednesday.
 
"I think perhaps a review of our current policies and practices is something that we will be looking at in the near future,” Tucson Water spokesman Fernando Molina told reporter Kevin Keen recently. Keen asked: “And why is that? Why in the near future?” “Well, because of the situations we've run against in the past couple of weeks,” he replied. “It's having us review our policies, which we do on a regular basis."
 
Molina said Tucson Water will present those proposed policies to city council Wednesday.
 
Right now, the department can cut customers' unusually big bills about in half. It's called an adjustment, and the proposal could increase the adjustment amount, with stipulations.
 
“We're just trying to find a way that would be a little more equitable to our customers and our elected officials,” Molina explained.
 
He said customers would still pay for the water that leaked or was used, but they'd pay at a lower rate. Right now, the more water you use, the more each cubic foot costs so a constant leak gets expensive.
 
But the proposal comes with a price tag. Molina said the department already makes $1 million dollars in adjustments a year. “We already have, probably, the most generous adjustment policy that we've been able to find of any utilities here,” he said.
 
If more adjustments are made, he said the money to pay for them would need to come from somewhere because the department would be losing revenue while the expense of supplying the water remained.
 
“I could see two options,” Molina said. “One would be that it's an increase to our total budget request or we have to cut $1 million from some other program areas to absorb those additional costs related to those adjustment changes.” When asked if raising rates was another possibility, he said yes.
 
Tucson Water said it makes about 4,700 adjustments a year. It pointed out it sends out three million monthly bills a year so less than one percent of those have these kind of problems.

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