Odessa Residents Upset With 40% Hike in Water Rates

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - More than seven million dollars. That's how much the city of Odessa was short on their water bill this year.

It's a problem created by the record drought, but now residents are the ones who are making up that difference and they're not happy about it.

Ask and you shall receive. Since last year Odessa residents were asked to conserve water and they did.

"The good news is the citizens helped us achieve the reduction," City Manager, Richard Morton, said. "The bad news is that effects on the revenue side."

Morton said the drop in water sales plus the rising cost of getting that water here created a $7.6 million hole in the city's water account.

So now to make up for it, water rates are going up by 40%.

"It's a big jump and we understand that," Morton said. "The council understands that it's a good size jump but it's the new reality cost for water in Odessa."

So how does this effect you?

Morton says the average Odessa household uses 7,000 gallons a month, making the current bill $51.45. Under the new rates, the bill goes up to $63.41 That's about a $12 increase.

The more you use, the more you pay.

Morton said the overall rate for water and sewer is only about 20% increase.

"The solid waste rate is not going up, the sewer rate is not going up, just the water rate," Morton said.

But homeowners NewsWest 9 spoke with said the situation isn't fair.

"I think it's obscene," resident, Becky Martin, said. "We're being punished because they did not pre-plan."

"We did what we had to do to cut back on our water usage and lose our yards," Garry Clark said. "We're not being rewarded for our participation."

Residents said they're paying the price for what they call poor planning.

"They should have taken care of this matter a long time ago," Martin said. "The city should be able to for see these matters, I totally disagree with it."

"I think there's more things they could look at before they do it," Clark said.

Morton said city officials understand their frustration but unfortunately it's another effect of Mother Nature.

"It's not that we're punishing the citizens, it's that this is the cost of water in the desert," Morton said.

City council members are expected to consider the issue at a meeting sometime in the near future.