People in Gainesville sometimes comment that their water bills are too high.

Gainesville City Manager Mike Land points out a resident’s water bill could more accurately be called a ‘utility’ bill. As most residents realize, they are paying for more than just the water they use in their homes.

They must also pay for solid waste (garbage) removal and sewer services.

Land explained that the water people use in their homes and businesses has to be taken from the ground, transported to the city and finally disposed of—that’s where the sewage charges come in.

Land pointed out that water charges are based on the water residents actually use, not on the costs of the water itself.

“Our largest electrical charges in the city are water and sewer. We have to keep pumps running for collection, distribution and water treatment...Fuel and energy costs go up, but we don’t pass those costs on. We absorb them,” Land said.

Gainesville gets its water from two sources: the Trinity Aquifer and Moss Lake. After it is used, the water coming from residences and businesses has to be sent to the city water treatment facility to be cleaned. This process adds to the cost of providing water for Gainesville residents.

But are water rates actually higher here in Gainesville than they are in other cities?

According to a survey of water and sewer rates compiled by the Greater Texoma Utility Authority, Gainesville’s rates fall somewhere in the middle between other cities such as Oak Ridge on the higher end and Callisburg near the bottom.

The cost of water per 500 gallons is $26.64 for Gainesville residents. Bolivar Water Supply, on the other hand, has a much higher rate of $44.50 per 500 gallons of water.

Other cities may appear to have cheaper rates, but the numbers can be deceiving.

Muenster, for example, has a rate of just $19 per 500 gallons but also has a water district, a taxing entity Gainesville does not have.

Homeowners in Muenster pay additional charges for water based on the appraisal value of their homes. Add this charge to the basic water rate imposed by the city, Land said, and the price of water in Muenster is on par with that of Gainesville.

Another factor in the price of water in Gainesville is the presence of five taxing entities. Most cities the size of Gainesville do not have five entities, Land said. But with additional services, such as North Texas Medical Center and North Central Texas College, comes the need for more tax money. The school district, NTMC, the city of Gainesville, Cooke County and NCTC all require tax dollars.

Gainesville is lucky in one respect, Land said. The city has no water shortage and he said he does not foresee a time when either voluntary or involuntary water rationing could become a necessity.

“We have a lot of capacity in our system,” he pointed out.

He said in his ten years with the city, he only recalls one instance in which citizens were asked to conserve water, and that was on a voluntary basis.

On an average day, water usage in the city is about 2.2 million gallons. That number increases to about 3-4 million gallons per day in the summer.

There is no shortage of water in Gainesville. Our abundant water supply keeps lawns green, flower and vegetable gardens growing and places such as the municipal swimming pool cool and inviting.

On a hot day, you can see kids all over town with their towels and flip-flops heading for Leonard Park to cool off in the city’s pool.

Although the city does not make money on the pool, Land said, it is provided as a service to the community.

“There’s just a minimal charge for users,” he said. “A pool is entertainment, for kids primarily,” he said.

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