In February 2020, after concluding at a hearing that North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) rates were adverse to the public interest, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) agreed to initiate a cost-of-service hearing sought by the City of Rowlett and four of the NTMWD member cities; Garland, Mesquite, Plano and Richardson. Instead of issuing the expected order for this review at their meeting on Friday, April 17, the PUC instead ordered the NTMWD and its 13 member cities into mediation.
On Thursday, May 14, the PUC granted a 90-day extension requested by the 13 member cities to provide additional time to come to a resolution, prior to ordered mediation, over their dispute regarding the water rates and take-or-pay practices of the NTMWD. The 13 member cities must come to an agreement by August 12 or face mediation ordered by the PUC.
“We are very disappointed at this abrupt turnaround by the Public Utilities Commission,” said Mayor Tammy Dana-Bashian. “As the largest customer City of the North Texas Municipal Water District, Rowlett will continue to vigorously advocate for our citizens and strongly support the efforts of the cities of Garland, Mesquite, Plano, and Richardson to stop the unfair water practices of the NTMWD. The anticipated cost-of-service hearing provided an avenue for representation for the over 100,000 citizens in the Customer Cities and Special Utility Districts. That representation has been silenced by the PUC not proceeding with the cost-of-service hearing.”
The North Texas Municipal Water District is a wholesale water provider serving more than 1.8 million people in nearly 90 communities across 10 North Texas counties. There are 13 Member Cities and over 30 Customer Cities and Special Utility Districts. A wholesale customer for 54 years, Rowlett is the largest customer city, with a population of over 66,000 residents and over 20,000 water accounts. In the past 18-years, Rowlett has paid nearly $20 million for over 10 billion gallons of water that was not received or used by Rowlett citizens or customers. Based on the current take-or-pay wholesale water pricing methodology in place by the NTMWD, Rowlett will continue to be charged every year for hundreds of millions of gallons of water that goes unused - the high cost of water correlates directly with this pricing structure. Due to limited resources, smaller communities such as Rowlett have no ability to mitigate the negative impact of the take-or-pay structure and, with no feasible alternative, there is no choice but to purchase water from the NTMWD.