City of Houston

Houston City Council Approves Water Bill Price Increase For The Next Five Years

The increase will go into effect starting on September 1.

Houston residents can expect water bills to be slightly higher starting September 1, 2021.

Houston water and wastewater rates are set to increase in September after Houston City Council passed a measure Wednesday to upgrade the city’s aging water and sewer systems.

The price hike will bring about a $4 increase per month during the first year for an average single-family home, which uses about 3,000 gallons of water per month, according to Houston Public Works.

Rates will then move upward every April for the next five years, ending in 2026 with an approximate 78% increase to water and wastewater rates for an average single-family home.

After city council convened, Mayor Sylvester Turner said the price increase would ensure that Houstonians have access to clean water.

“There is never a good time to raise people’s water rates,” Turner said. “When you turn on that faucet, and you can’t get your water…then everyone has a problem.”

The additional funds from the price hike will help the city comply with a $2 billion consent decree agreement with the EPA. The agreement was finalized in 2019, and requires the city to enact infrastructure updates over a 15 year period in order to fix its leaking sewer system.

According to the mayor, the city has seen over 9,000 sanitary sewer overflow incidents over a five year period.

“The infrastructure in the city of Houston is aging,” he said. “Those infrastructure needs must be addressed.”

A majority of council members approved the increase, with 12 votes in favor, including District J Council member Edward Pollard, who said the council shouldn’t delay the matter any further because system upgrades are urgently needed now.

"At the end of the day, we have to look at the needs of the city to make sure that the infrastructure and the needs of the city are put in place,” Pollard said, “so that the well being of the citizens of Houston don't come back on the back end and say, ‘why didn't y'all do something when y'all knew that you needed improvements?'"

Council members Amy Peck, Greg Travis, Mike Knox and Michael Kubosh voted against it.

Houston’s water rate will still be among the lowest in the entire country, compared to other major cities, despite the newly enacted price increase, according to Houston Public Works.

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Jen Rice

Reporter

Jen Rice is the City Hall reporter at Houston Public Media, where she covers topics like Houston City Council and housing. Jen was born and raised in Houston's 100-year floodplain. She graduated from Barnard College at Columbia University and has a master's degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs...

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