EPWater presents FY2022-23 budget proposal

EPWater presents FY2022-23 budget proposal
Posted on 12/01/2021
Bustamante Wastewater Treatment Plant

A 9% increase in water rates, a 13% increase in wastewater rates and 9% increase in stormwater fees would help El Paso Water reinforce infrastructure overdue for upgrades and expand systems to sustain city growth, EPWater officials told the Public Service Board.

With an eye trained on safety, reliability and resilience, utility President and CEO John Balliew and staff presented EPWater’s proposed Fiscal Year 2022-23 Water/Wastewater and Stormwater budgets to the PSB on Nov. 30. If approved, the combined budgets will result in an increase of $6.37 per month on the average residential bill.

“This year proved to be challenging, with two major events that impacted our stormwater and wastewater systems,” Balliew said. “We heard many community voices demanding better, and we are committed to delivering on that.”

Budget outline


The FY2022-23 budget includes a sizable increase in capital projects to meet the demands of a growing community and stay ahead of the curve.

The aftermath of the recent monsoon season and the Frontera wastewater emergency has driven a reprioritization of projects, but more investment is necessary to address expensive infrastructure issues that have become urgent, Balliew said.  

Funding priorities include:

  • safeguarding the city’s water future. With an enduring river drought on the horizon, EPWater must continue to diversify the city’s water resources. New water supplies include Aquifer Storage and Recovery, the Advanced Water Purification Facility and an expansion of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Desalination Plant.
  • infrastructure rehabilitation. To improve reliability, plants would be upgraded and water and wastewater lines would be repaired, as well as tanks and pump stations.
  • boosting modernization efforts to upgrade technology and improve customer services. Chief among these plans are a new Customer Information System and installing 20,000 smart meters.
  • expanding systems to meet the city’s growth needs. Plans call for installation of new water and wastewater lines, pump stations and tanks in West, Northeast and East El Paso.
  • improving resiliency to manage extreme weather events in compliance with new state standards. To meet Texas Senate Bill 3 requirements, EPWater added $50 million to the budget. The utility wants to improve freeze protection, water storage and energy backup generators.
  • prioritizing areas with high flood risk to improve public safety. Plans are in place to add and improve ponds, dams and channels.

The largest single proposed investment focuses on a $500 million expansion over the next few years to upgrade the Roberto R. Bustamante Wastewater Treatment Plant. The project will extend the plant’s lifespan by 30 years to serve the city’s burgeoning East Side.


The board was presented with two alternatives to consider for the stormwater budget, both of which included a 9% fee increase, which represents a 41-cent increase for the typical home.

  • Alternative 1 allows for $50 million in projects in 2022-23, with a strategic prioritization of Stormwater Master Plan projects, totaling $357 million in infrastructure investments over 10 years. This option includes projections for modest to no annual fee increases over the next decade.
  • Alternative 2 allows for $70 million in projects in 2022-23, accelerating completion of all the projects in the Stormwater Master Plan, totaling $700 million in infrastructure investments over 10 years. This option includes projections for several slightly higher annual increases of about $1 over the next decade.

“On stormwater projects, City Council representatives and others are speaking out loudly, and they want change in terms of a difference in the way we do business,” board member Chris Antcliff said. “I think Alternative 2 makes more sense to me.”

After the recent monsoon season, Matthew Ibarra, Chief of Staff for City Rep. Alexsandra Annello, said their Central El Paso constituents are seeking additional investment to deal with cataclysmic weather events.

“El Paso Water was gracious enough to take us on a tour, and we saw the investment in stormwater infrastructure,” Ibarra said during the meeting.


Still affordable

To assist with affordability, EPWater will continue to partner with local nonprofit agencies Project Bravo and Amistad to offer bill payment assistance to low-income customers.

Also, the utility’s rate structure will continue to provide relief for low water users while charging more for high water users. Customers using less than 4 ccfs* (2,990 gallons) of water in any given month will receive a waiver of the $12.88 Water Supply Replacement Charge.

“We always try to strike a balance between progress and affordability,” Balliew said. “With this next budget, we will be able to do more projects.”

The board will vote on the FY2022-23 budget, including rates and fees, during the PSB meeting on Jan. 12. If approved, the budget, rates and fees will go into effect at the start of the fiscal year, which begins March 1.

For more information, watch the Budget Meeting or download the fact sheet.

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