The drought currently gripping northwest Texas will cause yet another headache for Grahamites, as the City of Graham will likely have to raise water rates to make up for reduced sales, an ongoing trend for many towns in Texas.

“First of all, as we have discussed several times, the water coming into the plant has got more organics and solids in it, so it cost more to treat it,” City Manager David Casteel said. “The second thing is, with the restrictions in place, we’re selling less water than we had anticipated in the budgets that we had prepared for the last round of rates.”

The water-sewer funds operate separately from the city’s general budget, which looks to be in good shape as the city council will probably approve a small reduction to the tax rate. The sewer fund looks to be about the same as last year, so those rates should remain the same.

Unfortunately, while water sales decrease to a projected 50 million to 60 million gallons, the city is still held to maintenance, operation and bond payments that have recently increased due to higher costs to treat water, explained city administrators. The revenue lost has to be made up in some way, Casteel said.

According to projections by Financial Director David Maddy, with current reduced water sales the city would cover costs and bond payments but would not be able to maintain the amount of cash reserves promised to lenders when bonds were pulled to fund water plant expansions that started this year.

Read the entire story in this weekend's Graham Leader.