Fort Worth Could Make Water Restrictions Permanent

Council may look at raising water rates as well

The Fort Worth City Council could soon make water restrictions permanent.

The twice weekly restrictions have been in place for nearly a year, but they may end up costing residents more.

Katie Browning and her children planted a small herb garden at their plot in the Fairmount Historic District Community Garden on Tuesday afternoon.

"We actually made sure to pick plants that were native to Texas, or semi-drought tolerant," Browning said.

With drought concerns and water restrictions in place, she's doing her part.

"We'd rather have water to drink than a green yard," she said."

The twice-weekly outdoor watering restrictions are doing their part too. Mayor Betsy Price said 31 billion gallons of water was conserved last year alone. That's the equivalent of what 310,000 U.S. households would use in a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

"Fifty-percent or more of home usage goes to outdoor landscaping," Price said.

So, in the coming months the city council will likely make the water restrictions permanent, said Price.

But there is a financial aftertaste to that conservation, as less money is coming into the water department in part because of the conservation. That could mean a raise to water rates.

"Rates will go up in the near term future, but then they will flatten out," Price said on Tuesday.

A rate raise helps pay for water infrastructure commitments the city must help pay for, but not everyone is sold on raising rates.

"Just to say because we're using less water, it's going to cost more, that's a non-starter," said city councilman Jungus Jordan. "We're going to have to look at what the real cost of doing business is."

That look will happen during budget negotiations for next year's budget. The city held off on raising rates in recent years, but it is a possibility in the future.

For Browning, the idea of paying more for the water she uses or having restrictions on when she can water aren't ideal.

"But if it's to save water in the future, and things like that, it just makes sense to me," she said.

No date has been set yet on when permanent water restrictions could be voted on by the city council.

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