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Fresno council considers water rate hike

City council members are considering whether to raise water rates to build a new water treatment plant.
It could cost more money to take a shower in the City of Fresno.  The city council is meeting Thursday night to make a decision on a proposed rate hike.  The average $25 dollar bill would go up to $50 over a four-year period.

The city would collect $400 million to build a new surface water treatment facility.  The current plant cleans about 30 million gallons of water every day.  It’s the only one in Fresno, producing about 20% of the city’s water through a six-step process.  The city wants to build an even bigger facility to compensate for lower ground water levels.

“Safe, clean and reliable water, not only for today's needs, but for future generations, our children and grandchildren,” said Patrick Wiemiller, Public Utilities Director.

Wiemiller says managing surface water is more important than ever, because new federal standards, changing the acceptable amount of a chemical, could make some of our ground water unusable.

“We might have to shut down our wells, a third of our wells in the city, and we'd have to issue Do Not Drink notices to probably half of our customer base within the next few years,” said Wiemiller.

The city says the proposed rate hike would essentially double the average water bill.  City Council President Blong Xiong has been answering residents questions leading up to this vote.

“I think a majority of them are understanding of why it has to happen but it's still a tough bullet to bite here,” said Xiong.

Water customers opposed to the hike were asked to send the city a letter of rejection.  68,000 letters would essentially put a stop to the rate hike, but only 450 letters came in.

If approved, the first rate increase would happen in September.

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Fresno, CA

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