Saturday, February 26, 2022

Austin Water Oversight Committee Calls on City Manager to Explore Options of a Customer Rebate or Investment to the City’s Water Plants

City Council will address the committee’s resolution to mitigate impacts from the recent boil water notice next month

On Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022, the Austin Water Oversight Committee held its first meeting following the recent boil water notice. On the heels of a special called meeting and an Austin City Council approved external audit of the utility, newly appointed committee chair Vanessa Fuentes followed this with additional action calling on the City Manager to provide recommendations regarding impacts from the event.

More specifically, the resolution explores different mitigation options:

  • First, the resolution would direct the City Manager to provide options to address adverse water bill impacts experienced by Austin Water customers
  • Second, the item also directs the City Manager to explore the potential of re-allocating existing funds from within the Austin Water budget to serve as an investment in the utility’s wastewater infrastructure. The potential amount would be based on the amount that could be provided to customers through utility bill relief.

“Much like the action Council pursued following Winter Storm Uri, our community deserves relief from the impacts of the recent boil water notice whether in the form of a rebate or through an investment into operations and infrastructure at our water plants,” said Austin City Council Member Vanessa Fuentes.

According to Randi Jenkins, the assistant director of customer service for Austin Water, the goodwill bill credit would be roughly $10 per residential customer and up to $50 for commercial customers compared to current projections of about $2 million toward Austin Water improvements.

After unanimous approval from the committee, this proposal will be included in the March 3 City Council agenda, with direction to return with recommendations March 24. This information will offer a clear outline of how these relief dollars might be used to reinvest in the utility’s Capital Improvement Plan.

“We need all the information laid out before us before we can determine the best use of City dollars at this point in time,” said Fuentes.

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