Future of Fresno's water system is in the hands of residents

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If you live in Fresno, you could have a very important letter sitting on your counter that you may have overlooked. (KFSN)

With the historic water tower as a backdrop, City Council Member Steve Brandau announced he was backing off his support for an expansion of the city's water system, until the city asks the state for more money.

"Before I burden our rate payers I've got to make sure every rock is overturned. And every avenue has been investigated," Brandau said.

The $429 million project to add a water treatment plant and improve pipes and pumps would raise the average city water bill from $24 to $48 dollars a month over five years.

Brandau believes the state could divert money from the water bond passed by California voters for some of the money. Mayor Ashley Swearengin agrees, but says that will take time.

"The reality is the state just passed a water bond and some of those proceeds could go to help our water infrastructure in Fresno," said Swearengin. "Those dollars will take years to make their way down to the local level but I agree with Steve Brandau we should be pushing for that."

But the clock is ticking. City rate payers have the chance to vote against the rate increase by returning a ballot that was sent to the owners or occupants of all the properties in the city. Not returning the ballot is the same as voting yes for the water project.

So far about 30,000 "no" votes have been returned. But unless more than half or about 66,000 are returned by February 5th, the question of the water project and the rate increase goes to the city council. Mayor Swearengin is urging the council to approve it.

Swearengin added, "Ultimately we are asking the council to take responsibility for our water future and we'd love to minimize any future water rate increases with every resource possible but at the same time we have to take action to secure our water future."

Related Topics:
politicspoliticsfresno city collegewaterashley swearenginFresno
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