Arlington Water Department Efficiency Lessens Rate Increases for 2018

Rates for water and sewer service in Arlington will change on Jan. 1, 2018, with an increase of about $4.34 a month, or 14 cents per day, for the average residential customer. Despite the increases, Arlington remains one of the lowest priced water and sanitary sewer service providers in North Texas. A focus on reducing controllable costs is key to that success, according to Buzz Pishkur, director of Arlington Water Utilities.

“In the past five years, we have increased operating efficiencies department-wide and used new technologies to focus capital spending where it is needed,” Pishkur said. “Efforts like full-time leak detection and robotic sewer inspections are paying off for Arlington residents. These initiatives have helped us lessen the effects of increased expenses, such as raw water purchases and wastewater treatment. We are also able to finance additional funding for necessary improvements like main renewals and treatment plant updates.”

Click here for the 2018 Utility Rate Update flyer. 

The Arlington City Council approved water and wastewater rates for fiscal year 2018, which began October 1, as part of the City budget in September. This is the fifth straight year that the City Council has also authorized money from the Water/Wastewater Rate Stabilization Fund be used to delay rate increases for residents until January 1, thus reducing the annual increase by 25 percent.

Every May, the Texas Municipal League releases a study of residential water rates in Texas communities. Arlington’s 2018 rates are lower than all other North Texas cities of more than 50,000 residents in the 2017 report, including Dallas, Fort Worth, and Mansfield. January’s increases are the first increases to residential water rates in Arlington in two years.

One of Arlington Water Utilities’ major focuses in recent years has been on ensuring that less treated water is lost due to leaks or main breaks, Pishkur said. The department established a full-time leak detection program in 2014 that uses the latest technology to locate leaks in the City’s water distribution system so they can be repaired. In fiscal year 2017, locating and fixing leaks through the program saved an estimated $117,614,000 in water costs. In part because of these efforts, Arlington’s non-revenue water losses – the amount of water treated but not sold or accounted for in main breaks or fire department use – dropped from 12.75 percent in 2014 to 9.12 percent in 2016.

Arlington Water also has improved the maintenance of water main valves, which are the devices that allow flowing water to be quickly isolated during main breaks.

The department also invests in partnerships with North Texas institutions such as The University of Texas at Arlington to produce more efficient operations. Arlington Water and UTA used a robot that gathers sonar, laser and video data to complete 171,000 feet of large diameter sanitary sewer main inspections in fiscal year 2017. Arlington Water also used pipe-bursting instead of open trench methods for several of its water main renewal projects during the current fiscal year. Pipe-bursting is a technology that is less disruptive for residents and saves about $30 per foot of installed main.

These projects align with the City Council priority to Put Technology to Work.

To find out more about Arlington Water, visit the department website at www.arlingtontx.gov/water or, to find out about specific water and sewer projects, visit www.arlingtontx.gov/waterconstruction.

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