Las Vegas Home Water Rates May Rise for Third Lake Mead Pipeline

The Southern Nevada Water Authority, which supplies water to Las Vegas, may raise household bills by a “minor” amount more to help pay for a third pipeline to Lake Mead, said Patricia Mulroy, general manager for the authority.

“We are open to letting customers re-examine what we did with rates,” Mulroy said today during an interview at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Water Leadership Forum in Del Mar, California. The pipeline, needed due to falling lake levels, is estimated to cost at least $800 million.

The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce has said businesses were being asked to pay a disproportionally higher rate that could hurt the local economy, already suffering in the economic downturn. Typical residences would have a monthly increase of about $5 while bigger clients such as resorts face increases of $2,200 a month, according to the authority’s website.

The authority approved a $90 million rate increase in February to pay for debt and capital spending needed for infrastructure projects as the region grapples with a 13-year drought, Mulroy said. Customers are in agreement on the total amount that needs to be collected, Mulroy said.

“It gets down to who pays,” she said on the last day of the two-day water forum. “It will have to be a tradeoff and there could be minor tweaks around the edges as the residential component could go up with the commercial rates going down” more.

The new pipeline to augment two others into Lake Mead is needed as the drought is causing water levels to sink below the level of an existing line that supplies 40 percent of Las Vegas, Mulroy said.

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