- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

DALLAS (AP) - The city of Dallas and a North Texas river authority are at odds over the price of lake water that could trickle down into a 15 percent rate hike for city customers.

The Dallas Morning News reports (http://bit.ly/1t6WpSA ) Dallas has asked the Texas Public Utility Commission to block the rate set by the state-created Sabine River Authority. The river authority decided to charge Dallas $24.1 million a year for water after six years of failed negotiations.

The city this year started drawing from Lake Fork, which provides about 13 percent of water coming out of Dallas faucets. Dallas officials say the price could be passed on to consumers, adding about $4 a month to the average residential water bill.

The nearly 28,000-acre reservoir is owned by the authority but was built by Dallas in the 1970s. The city paid $315 million to construct the lake and has underwritten 74 percent of the reservoir’s operating costs every year since 1981.

City officials declined to say what a fair price of water would be, but are adamant that the price set by the authority is too high. Dallas has received a $2 million water bill from the authority for November, which is due before Dec. 31.

“This year, because we have not budgeted (it) … we would have to defer some capital improvements” to meet the river authority’s demands, said Terry Lowery, assistant director of business operations for Dallas Water Utilities. “In the future, it would be the imposition of a rate increase.”

Ann Galassi, the Sabine River Authority’s assistant general manager of administration, says the price is reasonable. The authority is charging Dallas 56 cents per 1,000 gallons.

“We set a rate we thought was fair because it was a rate they set for their customers,” she said.

The commission has scheduled a hearing for Jan. 6 and will determine if it has jurisdiction in the dispute.

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Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com

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