Camino Real Utility Authority Hikes Water and Wastewater Rates

The Camino Real Regional Utility Authority (CRRUA) has approved a rate increase for water and wastewater services, effective July 1, 2024, citing infrastructure costs and compliance issues. The rate hike will address 59 deficiencies in the water system, ensuring a reliable and safe water supply for the communities it serves.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Camino Real Utility Authority Hikes Water and Wastewater Rates

Camino Real Utility Authority Hikes Water and Wastewater Rates

The Camino Real Regional Utility Authority (CRRUA) in Santa Teresa and Sunland Park, Texas, has approved a rate increase for water and wastewater services effective July 1, 2024. The decision was made at the board's regular meeting on May 13, citing infrastructure costs and compliance issues as the primary reasons for the hike.

Why this matters: This rate increase has broader implications for the community's access to clean water and wastewater services, highlighting the need for infrastructure investments to ensure public health and environmental sustainability. The decision may also set a precedent for other utility authorities facing similar challenges, influencing the way they address infrastructure costs and compliance issues.

Under the new rates, monthly residential water rates will increase from $15 to $17.83 for the first 3,000 gallons, while residential wastewater rates will rise from $20.62 to $27 for the first 7,000 gallons. Commercial, industrial, institutional, and bulk users will also see rate increases.

The CRRUA has identified 59 deficiencies in its water system, and the additional revenue from the rate increase will help address these issues. According to CRRUA Executive Director Juan Carlos Crosby, the new rates will benefit customers by keeping arsenic levels within federal guidelines, minimizing discolored and smelly water, reducing waterline breaks and pump failures, and maintaining an uninterrupted flow of clean water.

Crosby, who was recently named the utility's executive director and will serve a three-year term with an annual salary of $126,500, stated, "The rate increase is attributed to inflation costs affecting the authority across the board." He added that the CRRUA board and management will continue to seek ways to cut costs and grow their customer base to keep rates and fees as low as possible in the future.

In addition to the rate increases, the CRRUA has also implemented new fees, including a $100 service call fee, a $200 after-hours and holiday service call fee, a $102 reconnect fee, and an $850 reconnect fee after 90 days or for transfers. These fees are aimed at covering the costs associated with providing these services.

The CRRUA's infrastructure has a total replacement cost of $81.5 million, and the utility is currently 70% compliant with state regulations. U.S. Rep. Gabe Vasquez has written a letter to the State of New Mexico asking for more water testing for the CRRUA system, as customers have expressed concerns over water quality in recent months, with some issues dating back years.

The rate increases and new fees will help the Camino Real Regional Utility Authority address critical infrastructure needs and ensure compliance with state and federal regulations. While customers may face higher bills, the utility aims to provide a reliable, safe, and high-quality water supply for the communities it serves in Santa Teresa and Sunland Park.

Key Takeaways

  • CRRUA approves rate increase for water and wastewater services effective July 1, 2024.
  • Monthly residential water rates increase from $15 to $17.83, wastewater rates from $20.62 to $27.
  • Rate increase aims to address 59 deficiencies in water system, ensure compliance with regulations.
  • New fees introduced, including service call fees and reconnect fees, to cover service costs.
  • Utility aims to provide reliable, safe, and high-quality water supply despite higher bills.