Fulshear City Council OKs new rates for irrigation meters

Fulshear City Council discusses water rates. (Nola Z. Valente/Community Impact Newspaper)
Fulshear City Council discusses water rates. (Nola Z. Valente/Community Impact Newspaper)

Fulshear City Council discusses water rates. (Nola Z. Valente/Community Impact Newspaper)

Fulshear City Council voted to amend an ordinance after hearing several resident concerns about the water rates in the city at its Jan. 21 meeting.

The amendment will have irrigation meter users billed $0 if consumption is shown to be less than 1,000 gallons by the meter readings.

"City Council approved new water rates based on false information," resident Jocelyn Ryan said at the Jan. 21 meeting. "City Council should revisit the voted-upon ordinance to ensure they were actually lowering residents high water rates, as intended."

Before this amendment, council passed new water rates in October to allow Fulshear to decrease the base rate on both the water and the wastewater by $7.50 each, decreasing rates from $13 to $5.50 for a usage of 0-5,000 gallons, according to city documents. The residential irrigation water rates were set at $0 for zero consumption and $6 for a usage of 1-1,000 gallons, charging an additional $1.75 for each additional thousand gallons, but the new ordinance changed the irrigation meter base rate to $5.50, according to city documents.

Water meters exclusively meter water used for outdoor watering and irrigation, which refers to the supply of water to land or crops to help growth usually through channels.

Residents typically install irrigation meters to save money, Fulshear City Manager Jack Harper said. Irrigation meters are not connected to the sewer, allowing residents to irrigate without skyrocketing their sewer fees.

"I put in my irrigation meter to conserve water," Fulshear resident CJ McDaniel said at the Jan. 21 council meeting. "I put it in to save money ... but if you're going to charge me $5.50 for water I'm not using, I'm going to pump 5,000 gallons out on the ground because I'm paying for it. ... I encourage you to look at this as a consumption-based program, and charge for what people use."

A total of three residents spoke during citizens' comments to address their concerns over the water rates in the city.

Resident Jeniffer Hickman said she had an irrigation meter installed for $605, expecting to save money, but she said she has yet to make up for what she paid for the installment.

"This $5.50 that the city or whoever wants to charge for the zero usage is just more added on to [the cost to install the irrigation meter] if we are not using it,” Hickman said. “It's $5.50 for the irrigation meter and then $5.50 for residential, where we're already paying a base rate. So we are really paying an $11 base rate for water whereas all the other households [without irrigation meters] are paying $5.50."

Mayor Aaron Groff addressed citizen comments before beginning the discussion eventually leading to the amendment.

"We're elected officials to represent the people, and we are also elected officials charged with doing what is best for the city," Groff said. "The majority of the time, I believe those things line up exactly, but unfortunately in this case, they may be juxtaposed."
By Nola Valente
A native Texan, Nola serves as reporter for the Katy edition of Community Impact Newspaper. She studied print journalism at the University of Houston and French at the University of Paris-Sorbonne in France. Nola was previously a foreign correspondent in Jerusalem, Israel covering Middle East news through an internship with an American news outlet.


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