The San Antonio Water System is going to ask City Council to approve a 5.1% rate increase for residential customers in 2014, which will raise the average customer's monthly bill by $2.59, 1200 WOAI news reports.


  SAWS says the additional money is needed to obtain new sources of water.  Among the projects in the works are a pipeline to bring water from SAWS desalination plant into the system, and a huge pipeline to bring in water from the Carrizo Aquifer in Gonzales County, the largest non-Edwards water supply ever obtained by SAWS.


  The new rates will also be used to meet a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mandate that SAWS spend a large amount of money upgrading its ageing sewer system.


  SAWS CEO Robert Puente says the utility was going to ask City Council for a 13.5% rate increase, but SAWS was able to cut that request in half, largely by making more than $10 million in cost and operating expense cuts, and eliminating 41 positions.


  "We are committed to operating more efficiently so our ratepayers can continue to receive a high level of service at the lowest possible price," Puente said.


  Via points out that improvements made in the system over the past few years enabled San Antonio to avoid Stage Three water restrictions during the current drought.


  But the rate increase will be a struggle for ratepayers.  CPS Energy is also pushing for a significant rate increase, and both utilities say the 2014 rate hike will just be the first of many they will be requesting.  Puente says SAWS will be asking for a 5.3% rate increase in 2015.