MESA, Ariz. — Editor's Note: The above video is from an earlier broadcast.
Arizona's dreary drought conditions is prompting the City of Mesa to consider charging a little more on consumer water bills.
Rising inflation and water shortages have made the cost of delivering water to the East Valley more expensive over the last year, so city officials are trying to find a way to recoup some of its growing expenses.
The Mesa City Council met this week to review adding a proposed "drought charge" to monthly water bills. After consuming 3,000 gallons of water, a user would start to be charged $0.08 for every 1,000 gallons consumed each month.
Christopher Hassert, the city's water resources director, says the average residential user would likely only be charged $0.24 more each month if the drought surcharge were to be applied.
"We're not afflicting a lot of pain with this drought surcharge. Twenty-four cents, it's something but it's not changing any behavior...It's not designed to change behavior, it's meant to recover our costs," Hassert said.
If approved, the drought surcharge would be separate from the overall water rate charged to Mesa's customers. City officials are also proposing raising water rates for residents which could result in paying $1.31 more each month.
City officials say Mesa would continue monitoring the state's water levels to evaluate in the future whether the drought surcharge should be adjusted.
Earlier this year, Mesa and several other Valley cities launched the first phase of a water management plan designed to combat the long-term effects of Arizona's ongoing drought.
The initial phase mostly entails residents voluntarily conserving water and Mesa recently advised water customers to consider forgoing the overseeding of turf areas this fall season.
City Manager Chris Brady says the proposed drought surcharge should not lead residents to assume that Mesa is running out of water.
"It's not that we have less water. It's that the water we're using is becoming more expensive," Brady told the council this week.
The city has several more administrative steps to complete before approving the new utility costs for the upcoming year.
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