Clear Lake residents dodge higher water rates
Most Houston residents are bracing for higher water bills next month, but most in Clear Lake will escape the city's rate increase, even if they live in Houston or one of the cities that buy water from Houston. At least for now.
For residents who pay their water and sewer bills to the city of Houston, a 12.5 percent rate increase went into effect June 1. There's a 15.2 percent increase still to come, and it will be phased in over the next three years.
Eventually, the monthly bill of an average Houston household will rise from $47 to $60 for 6,000 gallons of water.
That's not true, however, for customers of the Clear Lake City Water Authority, which includes most of Clear Lake's Houston residents, most of Taylor Lake Village and some of Webster.
Although the Clear Lake City Water Authority gets a monthly bill for using water from Houston's Southeast Water Purification Plant at 3100 Genoa-Red Bluff Road, the water authority is a partner in the plant and has its own contract with the city, with no expiration date. The same is true for League City, Friendswood, Nassau Bay and Webster.
Alvin Wright, a spokesman for Houston's public works department, said the city's partners in the Southeast Water Purification Plant won't be affected by Houston's new rate increase, but all the partners have to share operating costs for the plant. Such costs inevitably increase as plants and pipes age.
"They're in the same boat we are," Wright said.
James Byrd, the water authority's general manager, isn't worried just yet.
"The way I see it, it could possibly trickle down, but I don't see it for now," said Byrd.
Neither does Gayle Yoder, the water authority's president.
We have not gotten an indication there will be any change in the water we buy from Houston," she said.
Mike Loftin, League City's finance director, said no one from Houston has suggested a change to its contract.
At some point, they're probably going to want to revisit it, but for now, the amount we're paying for water is it for the foreseeable future," he said.
Houston Councilman Mike Sullivan, whose district includes Clear Lake's Houston residents, was one of only three on the city council to vote against the rate increase.
"I voted against it because I thought that it was extremely punitive to residential homeowners and that the city of Houston has not laid out a clear plan as to how they would spend the money once collected," Sullivan said. "I have no idea if any of those moneys are going to be spent in my district and if so, where."
Among Clear Lake's other cities, El Lago, Kemah and Clear Lake Shores get water through their own water districts. Seabrook gets water from Pasadena, which gets it from city of Houston.
Read more about Houston's rate hike.
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