Some suppiers who truck in water to fill Texas pools are raising their rates by as much as 300 percent.
While trucked-in water ordinarily runs 6 cents per gallon or less, some are charging 14 cents. So it can cost more than $4,000 to fill even a small residential pool.
As water restrictions continue to tighten in some central and south Texas municipalities, an increasing number of homeowners are prohibited from using municipal water sources to fill new pools.
As a result, they’ve come to depend on trucked-in water. While some trucking companies have held their rates constant, others have begun price gouging.
“Over the past few months, it’s gotten harder and harder for me to find a water vendor who’s not charging incredibly high rates,” said one Austin-area builder who asked not to be named because he feels he has no choice but to continue working with these contractors.
The rise in rates began, this builder said, when water restrictions prohibiting the use of local water for filling pools took effect in a growing number of cities and smaller municipalities. Whereas many areas of north Texas have eased off on restrictions in the wake of spring rains, authorities in the southern portion of the state continued to increase them. And that’s creating new opportunities for water-trucking contractors to turn a profit.
But price gouging may not be the only motivation for the rate increases.
“My regular contractor’s price fluctuates based on the distance he has to drive, and on the municipality he has to purchase the water from, if it charges a higher rate than another one does,” said a builder in the San Antonio area, who also asked to remain anonymous. “But there are plenty of guys out there with trucks and trailers, just looking to make a quick buck and move on.”
Indeed, while several water-trucking firms have confirmed that they’ve raised their rates recently, they cite two main motivations for the change: Rising fuel costs and a widening area of demand for their services. These businesses also point out that they’re making an effort to keep their rates as fair as possible under the circumstances.