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Hillsborough County works to approve discount program for families struggling with water rate hike

Rate hike takes effect in October 2021
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Posted at 4:10 AM, May 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 07:46:38-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Help may soon be available for families who can't cope with the cost of a water rate hike coming to Hillsborough County in October. County commissioners are now working toward the approval of a new water/wastewater hardship program.

In southern Hillsborough County, water supply has been an ongoing problem.

For years, homes have been going up so fast, there hasn't been the infrastructure in place to support the area's water needs. That led to problems like low water pressure and new water restrictions in places like Riverview and Gibsonton.

In February, Commissioner Harry Cohen told ABC Action News fixes were badly needed.

"That is an enormously complicated, difficult problem to have," Cohen said. "So more than anything, this is about making sure that high-quality drinking water is never interrupted, coming through your tap."

So then in April, Hillsborough County leaders approved a four-percent rate increase over a period of four years. It takes effect in October. It's meant to help support and create new infrastructure for water needs, specifically in South County.

Right now, a typical single-family residence using around 6,000 gallons of water and wastewater services per month pays around $85. By 2023, that number jumps to around $93 per month. By 2025, that number jumps to more than $100 per month.

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Hillsborough County leaders voted to approve a water rate hike that takes effect in October 2021.

For families who may not be able to afford it, this week, the county commission is looking to approve a new water and wastewater services discount program.

Families have will need to meet a certain income threshold and apply.

The discounts would take effect in October and last for 12 months. If approved by commissioners, eligibility will eventually be set up through Hillsborough County Social Services.