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Fresno water bills could be going up

The City of Fresno is planning a $410 million water system upgrade and wants residents to foot the bill.
(Angela Greenwood Reporting)

Residents in the City of Fresno could soon be paying more for water.

The city is proposing rate hikes to fund a multi-million dollar upgrade project but some people want voters to have the final say. 

Information packets have been mailed to about 135,000 city residents and officials are asking for public input, but there is a push for people to have complete control over a rate hike. 

The City of Fresno is planning a $410 million water system upgrade and it's asking citizens and businesses to foot the bill.

Public Utilities Director Patrick Wiemiller said, "These projects will ensure that we have adequate water supply, clean safe and reliable water not only for our current needs, but for our children and grandchildren."

Wiemiller says the money would replace aging infrastructure and fund a new treatment plant in Southeast Fresno. 

Without the improvements, officials believe the water could run out. "There's a possibility of households being without a water supply," said Wiemiller. 

The typical user would see an $8 increase initially and at the end of four years, bills would rise roughly $23 a month.

For some people, the price is too high. 

Former Fresno County Supervisor Doug Vagim wants the issue to be put on a ballot as Measure W. 

Councilman Sal Quintero was a leader in getting the issue of trash privatization before the people and says water rates are completely different and he'll wait to hear citizen input. "If there's still a big concern about that in terms of the cost, then maybe we want to visit that," said Quintero.

A public hearing will be held at Fresno City Hall on August 15th at 5:00 p.m.

Officials say people can protest the hikes with a written letter to the city clerk but to overturn the proposal, more than half of the citizens would have to do so. 

If the proposal is not overturned, it goes into effect on September 17th.
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