CREATED Aug. 9, 2013
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) - You're probably going to be paying more for your water soon. The Southern Nevada Water Authority is looking to raise rates. As Action News anchor Rikki Cheese reports, Contact 13 has learned it's a hike that probably can't be avoided.
"It's inevitable, there's going to be a considerable rate increase," says Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, a member of the Water Authority's Board of Directors.
He says the money is needed to help pay for the loans used to finance construction at Lake Mead.
"There was a billion dollars, an excess of a billion dollars borrowed for this third straw at the lake," says Steve.
The straw refers to the project that helps take water out of the lake and brings it into the valley. Some locals say they understand the need for a rate increase.
"If it cost us more to get it, then we have to charge more for it," says water customer Martin.
"If people are going to live here, they're going to have to pay a little bit more for water," says valley resident Ron.
Others we spoke with feel big business should pay more, not valley residents.
"The average homeowner is actually using it just for everyday use, not to make profit. Bigger corporations are making profit using water," says water customer Dra.
"There's other ways to go around it. They don't have to raise," says valley resident Diana.
But the plan is to make everyone pay extra, from large businesses, to small mom and pop shops, down to every homeowner.
"It's not fair to just say let the casinos pay for everything. We can't kill our economy and the jobs that are associated with it," says Sisolak.
But he says, you won't get slapped with a bigger bill over night. The plan is to increase the water rates slowly, starting next year. The average homeowner would see their bill climb a dollar or two every year through 2017, for a total increase of about $5.
Sisolak says that makes it a little easier to handle. It's not an easy decision, but he stresses it needs to be done.
"Everyone needs water. So everyone is going to participate in terms of paying for it," says Sisolak.
The Water Authority has created a group to work out the details of this proposed increase. It's called the Integrated Resource Planning Advisory Committee, or IRPAC. It's made up of members representing every type of customer, from homeowners to businesses and corporations. The committee plans to make the official recommendation for the hike next month.