Carrollton Leader > News
Going up: City council looks at increasing irrigation rates
The Carrollton City Council is considering raising irrigation rates throughout the city. Though the effects of the rate spike would mainly affect commercial areas, such as apartments, there are several conservation efforts residents can take part in to alleviate the strain on water usage.
City Manager Leonard Martin said the item was discussed during a work session at last week's city council meeting. The work session discussed some potential water rate adjustments for irrigation users that are more conservation-focused to motivate and promote smarter water usage for businesses and apartment complexes. This excludes the residential water rate structure. No decisions were made, but residents will likely see the issue on a future agenda.
"It's based on irrigation, not general water usage," he said. "It would not be a general overall rate increase and the average homeowner would probably not be affected. It's not that the city is trying to make money, it's geared toward reducing water usage."
The city has some of the lowest water rates in the metro area and irrigation water rates are the second-lowest among 19 cities in the Metroplex. Some of the suggested changes will still keep the rates well below the market average, but will change its ranking to having the fourth-lowest irrigation water rates.
"This is more focused on encouraging conservation and proper use of irrigation systems," he said. "Some of the commercial areas, especially apartments, way over-water and it's essential to not to waste water. It's just like the effects of gas prices. If gas goes up, most people consolidate their trips and drive wisely. Likewise, if we raise the rates, we are hoping residents will use less water."
Martin said one apartment complex in particular saw consequences of over watering last summer.
"During the drought, they actually had plants die -- not from lack of water -- from drowning them," he said.
Robert Kopp, director of public works for the city of Carrollton, said if the rates are increased, it will be after this summer so people can prepare and get more "water smart."
"We have implemented many operational practices over the years to use water efficiently as well as energy, the power needed to pump the water to the faucets," he said. "This includes a water meter replacement program on a 10-year cycle, an aggressive pipe rehabilitation program to minimize leaks and water loss, and a residential water conservation rate schedule that progressively charges more per gallon as your usage increases."
Kopp said the city has offered a free residential irrigation inspection program for the last five years and almost 1,000 residents have used it to reduce their water usage.
"A licensed irrigator will come to their home and check how effective their system is to include inoperative sprinkler heads, overspray onto pavement, leaks et cetera," he said. "We have promoted community outreach and education programs to include elementary school visits to our pump station where they are shown displays about water conservation and different demonstrations."
This year, Kopp said, the city is in the midst of constructing two demonstration gardens in the city which will display the best water tolerant plants, types of ground covers and other landscaping elements to minimize water usage and still have curb appeal for your home or business.
Kopp said the city will schedule some educational classes taught by master gardeners to further assist residents in water conservation later this year.
"We also sent letters to our top 50 water users offering irrigation inspections with 'free certificates' also to further reduce water usage," he said.
The City of Carrollton remains in stage two of its Water Conservation and Drought Contingency Plan. The key restrictions limit residences and businesses to irrigation watering two days a week, and watering during the hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. is prohibited.
Even addresses are allowed to water Sunday and Thursday and odd addresses on Saturday and Wednesday.
"Recently the question has been asked if we have had considerable rain and the lakes that supply our water -- through Dallas Water Utilities -- are almost full, why do we need any drought measures now?" Kopp said. "While the supply is excellent and the lakes are between 98-99 percent full, the capacity to deliver the water remains limited. DWU is currently making major modifications to one of their three water treatment plants which reduce overall distribution capacity to their water customers about 25-30 percent. This limitation dictates the need to minimize water and limit usage. This will become a more critical impact as we approach the hot weather needs.