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I-Team: SNWA approves water rate hike | News

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I-Team: SNWA approves water rate hike
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 LAS VEGAS --Water rate payers will see an increase in their water bills following the approval of a rate hike by the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

The increase will be used to pay for a $650 million pumping station at Lake Mead. The increase for the average homeowner could be anywhere from $2.50 to $5 a month. Businesses will pay more.

“The tunnel boring machine, after excavating three miles under Lake Mead and over the past three years, encountered and began penetrating intake structure which has been patiently waiting on the bottom of Lake Mead,” said Marc Jensen, Dir. Engineering SNWA.

When the announcement that the machines finally punched through miles of rock opening up a new intake tunnel to Lake Mead Friday, it was met with cheers and applauds.

The so called "third straw" will allow water from the lake to flow into the Las Vegas valley, and that's even if the continuing drought causes the lake level to fall below the levels of two existing intakes.

“Water is the basic commodity which enables us to live here, and if we don't have it we can't be here,” said Duncan McCoy, SNWA Board Member.

Water from the third straw should join water already flowing into valley homes as soon as next summer, but the water authority is building a new pumping station to make sure enough water can be drawn from this intake alone should the lake level drop below the other intakes.

It's a fixed fee based on the size of your water heater and most residential customers will start paying $2.41 a month extra starting in 2016. The fee will level off at $4.81 a month in 2018.

“I hate the burden that it puts on the residents of this valley, but we need to continue to survive; we need to continue to grow and the only way that we're going to be able to do that is to make sure we have a steady water supply,” said Anit Wood, SNWA Board Member.

“This doesn't save one drop of water because it's all based on infrastructure,” said ED Uehling, resident. The charges are based on the infrastructure, not on the use of water.”

“This is infrastructure everybody in the valley needs to get the first drop of water, so no matter where you live in the valley, no matter how much water you use -- this piece of infrastructure is giving you security,” said John Entsminger, Director, SWNA.

It will take about five years to bring the new pumping facility on line, but once that's done the pumps should be able to provide water for the valley, even if the lake drops to a level called the "dead pool,” which is a point where the water is so low the dam can no longer release any downstream.

The project is designed to keep water flowing under the most extreme of conditions. The fee to build the new pumping station still has to be approved by member agencies of the water authority, including the city of Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas and Boulder City.

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