Monday, August 24, 2015

WHY is YOUR water bill going up?

Colleyville has a lot of current events in the news these days. One of which is the noticeable water rate increases the residents are experiencing. Earlier today someone posted their water bill on Facebook - $647 – for water! He was joined by numerous residents sharing their astronomical bills.

It's easy to excuse our water rate increase by simply saying “well everything has gone up”. This case, however, is different. There are significant revenue diversions that are directly driving up your water rates. The kicker is those diversions are for projects in Fort Worth which Colleyville, and other Tarrant residents, are subsidizing. Colleyville City Council member Chris Putnam summarized it well in this excerpt:

“For starters this is the second material rate increase Colleyville residents have taken on in the past two years..."

"Now flash forward to this latest increase. The capital infrastructure improvements are absolutely needed, and I supported the rate increase (roughly 5%) to improve our system. However the real root cause of these increases is the spiraling cost of raw and treated water we incur from the Trinity River Authority (TRA) who in turn sources raw water from the Trinity River Water District (TRWD). The TRWD is the real culprit of water rate increases all across Tarrant County. The TRWD diverts $50M - $60M of dollars annually to the Trinity River Vision (TRV) project, a $1 BiILLION boondoggle run by Congresswomen Kay Granger's son, which seeks to re-develop the Fort Worth downtown-area waterfront. You may know the TRWD from their failed giant Main Street water slide which sent many people to the hospital, bridges being built over dry land, and e-coli tubing nights with “free” concerts at Panther Island.

The TRWD's revenue fund actually throws off TENS OF MILLIONS in "profit" annually so they have absolutely no need to increase water rates. However, the TRV slush fund loses tens of millions annually. So most Tarrant County residents are effectively subsidizing Fort Worth's economic development projects with much higher water bills. In the meantime, our own city staff acknowledges that we have not attempted to negotiate or influence these "pass-thru" increases from TRA/TRWD. We simply accept them and say, "thank you sir, may I have another." That is not an indictment on our excellent city staff. Our political leaders should be stepping up to join me in pushing back on these increases."

"Dealing with our water issues with an increasing population is serious business, and requires serious people and solutions to address. Going along simply to get along with other regional quasi-governmental agencies is not the answer."

We should hold every level of government accountable for separating legitimate projects, such as infrastructure, from diversionary spending expeditions. In this case, only a city like Colleyville can hold the TRWD, via the TRA, accountable for passing the cost from Fort Worth's boondoggle to its citizens. In turn, only YOU can hold Colleyville accountable by demanding action.

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