LITTLE ROCK, Ark – Customers in Little Rock and North Little Rock could be paying more for water in the next year.

Central Arkansas Water is looking at a water rate increase over the next 10 years.

The proposal would gradually up rates from half a cent a gallon to a full cent a gallon by 2033. For an average home that uses about 300 gallons a day, that comes out to about a dollar and a half more a day.

“We’re talking about a pretty moderate rate increase considering the return we are going to get from it,” CWA Director of Communications Doug Shackelford said.

Shackelford says the rate increase if passed will help Central Arkansas Water pay for some much-needed improvements.

On top of the list is a complete renovation of the Jack Wilson Water Treatment Plant.

“For years we have been able to maintain it but at age 70, it’s just time for a complete renovation,” Shackelford said.

Shackelford says most of the treatment plant needs upgrades in order to provide the same quality of water to customers that it has for years.

That project alone will cost about $150 million.

Other projects listed under the proposed rate increase include a new water line that runs from Lake Maumelle to the water plant and a species mitigation project in Lake Maumelle.

Shackelford says Lake Maumelle is seeing an increase existence of Hydrilla.

If the plant grows in population, Shackleford says it could have an impact on the treatment process.

“The treatment process kills them, but it leaves behind a residue that clogs up filters making it really difficult to treat the water,” Shackelford said.

Altogether, the projects will cost about $685 million.

CAW says they need approval from one of the two cities to move forward.

Lance Hines with the Little Rock City Board of Directors is pushing back on the issue.

“I need a better explanation before I’m going to support any kind of huge rate increase like this,” Hines stated.

Hines says he’s concerned because he believes the Little Rock Board has not been properly briefed on the proposal and believes North Little Rock has.

He says his concern lies with CAW and says he’s fearful the company is focusing on just one city to get the proposal passed.

“It just doesn’t make me comfortable,” Hines said. “It almost seems like it’s a strategy that CAW has decided to use to try and get this done by hook or crook.”

CAW is expected to discuss and vote on the final rate increases at its next board meeting in January. The decision will then be left up to North Little Rock and the Little Rock Board of Directors.

If just one board agrees, the proposal will pass.

If passed, the rate increases will begin in July 2023.