Water may flow freely in Texas homes, but it’s not free. That’s especially true in Wichita Falls, TX.

A LawnStarter review of new survey data from Food & Water Watch, a consumer rights group, shows residential customers of the Wichita Falls community water system paid the highest water bills in 2015 among the 40 largest community water systems in Texas. For Wichita Falls, the annual bill was $516.43 for 60,000 gallons of water. Wichita Falls was the only place in Texas where the water bill for one year topped $500.

Dealing With Drought

Jim Dockery, deputy city manager in Wichita Falls, says a drought-fueled effort to cut water use has contributed to higher water rates in his city.

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Several years of historic drought conditions prompted various water restrictions in Wichita Falls, resulting in a drop in water use, Dockery says. Today, despite the city no longer withering under drought conditions, the average residential customer remains in conservation mode in Wichita Falls, using just 3,740 gallons of water per month, he says. “That is extremely low water use, causing rates to be higher to meet operating costs,” Dockery says.

Aside from day-to-day operating costs, Wichita Falls is earmarking money for two long-range water projects: a $33 million system for processing treated wastewater and a $1 million-a-year program to tap into a local reservoir. “Once completed, these two major water supply initiatives should shore up the city’s resources for decades to come,” Dockery says.

Although Wichita Falls’ water rates may be high now, Dockery says he doesn’t expect any rate hikes over the next several years.

Across the 40 community water systems surveyed in Texas, the average annual water bill was $288.43. Among the 500 biggest community water systems surveyed around the country, the average water bill was $337.60.

Big Bills

While customers in Wichita Falls forked over the most money for water in Texas, customers in San Antonio enjoyed the lowest water bills in 2015. According to our review of the Food & Water Watch data, the annual water bill in San Antonio was $151.20.

Here are the 20 Texas cities where customers paid the highest water bills in 2015.

  1. Wichita Falls — $516.43
  2. Lubbock — $474.60
  3. San Angelo — $409.68
  4. Garland — $408.12
  5. Midland — $407.76
  6. Denton — $394.20
  7. Odessa — $391.76
  8. Richardson — $360.60
  9. Beaumont — $357.36
  10. Mesquite — $355.20
  11. McKinney — $353.16
  12. Waco — $332.40
  13. Austin — $328.56
  14. Frisco — $321.12
  15. Round Rock — $316.32
  16. Houston — $315.24
  17. Abilene — $309.00
  18. Fort Worth — $286.03
  19. Corpus Christi — $283.00
  20. Plano — $271.68

Texas average: $288.43
40 community water systems

U.S. average: $337.60
500 community water systems

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