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Who pays the lowest water bill? ... An analysis of Killeen-area water rates

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As drought conditions grow increasingly dire and concerns over water access proliferate, Killeen residents can take solace that their tap water comes at a cheaper price than most of their neighbors’.

According to the Texas Municipal League’s 2018 Water and Wastewater Survey, Killeen’s residential rate for households that average 5,000 gallons of use is far below the mean for other cities of its size.

According to the league, the average cost for a household that uses 5,000 gallons per month of water in a city between 100,000 and 200,000 is $30.40. Killeen’s rate is $22.21.

But when you look outside of Killeen, those favorable comparisons swing drastically, depending on the city.

Here is a roundup of area water utilities and how their rates compare to cities of similar size.

Killeen

According to the league, Killeen’s affordable water costs ranked fourth among 18 cities with populations between 100,000 and 200,000 that self-reported their rates.

The league’s data included self-reported figures from 681 Texas cities. The state encompasses 1,216 incorporated cities, according to the Texas Almanac.

Killeen’s average residential usage is 5,002 gallons per month, according to the league’s data.

The cities that rank higher than Killeen include Pasadena, with an average of $20.15; McKinney, with an average of $15.20; and College Station, with an average of $21.49.

In terms of rate structure, Killeen’s tiered rates are some of the most complicated in the area.

The city tiers its water rates by nine meter size categories, from 5/8 or 3/4 inches up to 10 inches.

For water meter sizes of 5/8 or 3/4 inches — standard for single-family homes — the base rate for up to 2,000 gallons is $12.70 per month.

For consumption between 2,000 and 25,000 gallons, the city charges a flat rate of $3.17 per 1,000 gallons.

Harker Heights

Harker Heights, which is in a different population category than Killeen, compares about as favorably to its peers as Killeen.

The average Heights household pays $27.09 on average for 5,000 gallons of water.

The average for other cities with populations between 30,000 and 50,000 is $35.05, according to the league.

The city of Harker Heights water rates are far simpler than Killeen’s, with a flat base rate for all meter sizes and a fee for water usage.

For city residents and businesses, the base rate is $10.59 per month. For any consumption, the rate is $3.30 per 1,000 gallons.

Copperas Cove

Cove residents receive competitive water rates in comparison to residents of cities similar in size, with an average of $34.20 for 5,000 gallons consumed.

The average for other cities with populations between 30,000 and 50,000 is $35.05, according to the league.

For Cove residents, the base rate is $11.77 per month. For consumption, the rate is $4.50 per 1,000 gallons.

Belton

Belton’s rate is competitive with other cities its size with an average water cost of $27.60 for 5,000 gallons.

The average water cost for households that consume 5,000 gallons in cities between 20,000 and 25,000 is $38.21, according to the league.

The monthly base rate for Belton water customers is $16.50 for up to 2,000 gallons of consumption. After 2,000 gallons, Belton charges $3.70 for every 1,000 gallons.

Bell County WCID No. 3 (Nolanville)

Nolanville residents receive their water from the Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 3, which does not report its rates to the league.

According to the district, the base water rate is $28.45 for up to 3,000 gallons use.

After the base rate, the district uses a tiered structure for additional consumption per 1,000 gallons: 3,001 to 7,000 gallons is $1.25 per 1,000 gallons; 7.001 to 15,000 gallons is $2; 15,001 to 25,000 gallons is $2.50; 25,001 to 50,000 gallons is $3; 50,001 to 400,000 gallons is $4; and 400,001 gallons and above is $4.50.

Using the district’s figures, the cost for 5,000 gallons of consumption would be $30.95 per month.

Salado

Residents in Salado receive their water from the Salado Water Supply Corporation, which does not submit its rates to the league survey.

The monthly base rate for village of Salado customers is $24.88 for up to 2,000 gallons of consumption, according to the corporation.

After 2,000 gallons, Salado charges these rates for every 1,000 gallons: $2.15 up to 10,000 gallons; $2.40 up to 20,000 gallons; $2.65 up to 30,000 gallons; $3 up to 50,000 gallons and $3.65 for any usage over 50,000.

Using the corporation’s figures, the cost of 5,000 gallons of consumption would be $31.33 per month.

Kempner

As a water corporation rather than a city utility, the Kempner Water Supply Corporation does not submit its rates to the league survey.

According to the corporation, Kempner customers are charged for four meter size categories and a flat rate for usage above 2,000 gallons per month.

For 5/8- and 3/4-inch meters, the corporation charges a base rate of $67.50 per month.

For use above 2,000 gallons, the corporation charges $3.15 per 1,000 gallons.

Using the corporation’s figures, the cost of using 5,000 gallons from a 5/8- or 3/4-inch meter would be $76.95 per month.

Lampasas

Residents in Lampasas pay less for water than residents of cities comparable in size, according to league data.

The city’s average cost for 5,000 gallons of monthly use is $45.70. The average for cities with populations between 5,000 and 10,000 is $53.08.

The city offers a flat base rate for residential customers at $23.70 per months. The city charges $4.40 per 1,000 gallons per 1,000 gallons used.

Florence

The city of Florence’s water cost is higher than cities of similar size, with a cost of $52.71 for 5,000 gallons of monthly usage.

The average cost for cities with populations under 2,000 is $42.64 for 5,000 gallons, according to the league.

Florence’s water charges are tiered by meter size, with a wide range of costs for usage above the base 2,000 gallons.

For water meter sizes of 5/8-inch meters, the base rate for up to 2,000 gallons is $39.96 per month. The city then tiers usage above 2,000 gallons into nine categories. The price range for those categories is $4.25 per 1,000 gallons between 2,001 and 4,000 gallons to $14.30 per $1,000 gallons for 45,001 gallons and up.

Gatesville

Gatesville residents pay less on average for their water than residents of cities with similar populations. The average cost for residential customers using 5,000 gallons per month in Gatesville is $35.

The average for cities with populations between 15,000 and 20,000 is $47.77.

The city charges a base rate of $20. The city charges $3 for every 1,000 gallons used.

WCID No. 1

Bell County is also home to the Water Control and Improvement District No. 1, a wholesale drinking water provider for seven regional utilities.

The district is the sole wholesale water provider for the city of Killeen and treats and disposes of the city’s wastewater.

The district also supplies water wholesale to the cities of Belton, Harker Heights and Copperas Cove, and 439 Water Supply Corporation and Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 3.

Although the district sells wholesale to utilities, it does not directly sell water to customers.

Herald staff contributed to this report.

kyleb@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

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