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CASA GRANDE — The price of water may be going up for Arizona Water Company customers.

The company recently mailed customers in the Casa Grande, Coolidge, Stanfield, White Tank and Ajo areas a notice stating the company is seeking a rate increase from the Arizona Corporation Commission.

The largest increase will be for customers living in the Casa Grande, Coolidge and Stanfield areas, with rates going up an estimated 26.12% or nearly $10 for customers who use about 7,100 gallons a month, according to the notice. The White Tank area would see an estimated increase of 3.38% or about $1.91 for customers who use an average of 9,200 gallons a month. Ajo customers would see an increase of 4.14% or about $1.78 for customers who use an average of 3,500 gallons per month.

The average Arizona resident uses up to 145 gallons of water per day, according to the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

Arizona Water Company was contacted for comment about the rate increase but the person responsible for information regarding the increase was not available.

Documents filed with the ACC state that Arizona Water Company is seeking the rate increase to cover the cost of improvements and repairs to the system, increased operational costs, declines in per-customer sales volumes, the need for additional equipment to remove nitrates and arsenic and to replace aging infrastructure.

The current rates were set in 2016 based on data from a 2014 rate study.

Most of the work needs to be done in the Coolidge, Casa Grande and Stanfield areas, according to the documents where some aging water lines date back to the 1920s or ‘30s and many years of agriculture in the area has allowed nitrates to trickle into the groundwater supply.

The company is drilling two new wells and completed a new $17 million nitrate and arsenic removal facility with a booster pump and pressure tank on Santiago Trail in Casa Grande.

The company also recently cut the ribbon on the start of a new $7.5 million recharge and recovery facility in Coolidge. When completed, the project will recharge about 12,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water into the aquifer, enough to supply around 40,000 homes per year.

The increase in rates will be collected through a series of surcharges Arizona Water Company is asking the ACC to approve. It is also asking the ACC to approve discounts for low-income and active military customers.

A hearing before the commission on the rate increase is set for September.

The commission’s staff has not made a recommendation on the case to the commission yet, said ACC Public Information Officer Nicole Capone. The commission will determine if the rate increase will be granted based on evidence that Arizona Water Company presents at the hearing. The commission may deny Arizona Water Company’s request or set the rates higher or lower than those proposed by the company.

If the increase is approved, the new rates would go into effect in January 2021.

A copy of Arizona Water Company’s application can be found on the ACC’s website, www.azcc.gov using the e-docket number of W-01445A-19-0278.

Customers can submit written comments to the ACC through its website by clicking on the “Cases and Open Meetings” tab and then on the “Make a Public Comment in a Docket” link. Customers can also send written comments by mail to the ACC’s Consumer Services Section at the commission’s offices, 1200 W. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85007. The letter should include the docket number.

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Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa is a reporter covering the city of Casa Grande and the surrounding area, as well as Central Arizona College. She can be reached at sadams@pinalcentral.com.

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