Drought led to lower-than-planned water rate hikes

The historic drought is one reason that Wichita water rate increases won’t be as steep as anticipated in 2013. The dry summers have meant more irrigation and higher revenues for the underfunded water utility. So the Wichita City Council was able to approve increases last week of 3 to 7 percent, instead of the projected hikes of 10 to 15 percent. The 2013 rate plan also includes a two-year delay in growth-related capital projects, which seems appropriate given the slowed place of home construction and the city’s budget challenges. It addresses the unfairness of charging residential users more for water so that business and wholesale clients can pay less. And it was good to hear council members discussing how to help those who can’t pay their utilities. City officials should not expect citizen gratitude for the higher water rates, but they are doing a good job of getting the water utility’s finances under control.