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Potential water rate hike options for unincorporated Pima County

Posted at 8:43 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 08:57:14-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — There could soon be a water rate hike for unincorporated Pima County.

Folks with the City of Tucson say this is something that’s normally done by most water utilities that serve outside of its jurisdiction.

“When you look at Arizona cities that, like Tucson, serve outside of their city limits, all but one have a differential rate,” said Tim Thomure during the virtual town hall.

Thomure, the Interim Assistant City Manager, says the increase is justified.

“Customers who live in the unincorporated area, many of them are on septic tank systems. So when the city delivers its water resources to those areas, it actually does not get the water back in the form of wastewater effluent like we do in the city,” he said.

Areas impacted by Tucson Water rate hike
Unincorporated areas impacted by Mayor Romero and city council's plans for a water rate increase.

Thomure says this is because of differences in infrastructure.

Now the Mayor and council are deciding between eight options.

“Those options can range from a flat across the board differential rate which is anywhere from 10% -50%-- They’re also looking at three different options that start with a lower base across the board, but they have higher percentages the more water you use you have,” he added.

In other words, the more you use, the more you pay.

“This is to incentivize conservation and less water use,” said Thomure.

Though some folks who joined the virtual meeting say this is unfair.

“This situation is unnecessary and you’re hurting a lot of people in doing it,” he said.

Incorporated towns like Marana, Oro Valley, and Sahuarita -- which operate their own water utilities -- would not be affected by the change. Catalina Foothills, the area southwest of Tucson along the Valencia corridor, Three Points, northern Avra Valley and Corona de Tucson are some of the major areas that would have differential rates.

Understanding your water bill

There will be another virtual town hall on May 25th, then the Mayor and council will meet on June 8th to make a decision.

“The differential rates would go into effect in early July,” said Thomure.

The city of Tucson is seeking input from the community. To weigh in with your opinion, visit