Kansas City residents organize to fight water rate increases

Posted at 4:05 PM, Jul 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-10 00:16:02-04
Kansas City residents are organizing a 'Right2Water' coalition to fight the higher water rates that took effect on May 1. 

The coalition is a newly formed watchdog group that believes the higher water rates are not fair for seniors and the working poor in Kansas City's lower income neighborhoods. Lorenzo Ervin founded the group after noticing that his water bill had more than doubled.

"The first water bill was about $40, and the next one was about $140," said Ervin.

Ervin said he and his wife called Kansas City Water Services to have their bill investigated and ultimately reduced due to an error, but said others may not have the means or mindset to do so.

That's why they're organizing to fight the water company.

"What I want to see is this city being put under some regulation or rules equivalent to that. We don't know if we'll have to go through a lawsuit or a referendum process. We don't know what we'll have to go through to get it," said Ervin.

Ervin said they are still in the infancy stages of organizing but they encourage others to contact them at if they want to get involved.

KC Water Services released this statement in response to the Right2Water coalition:

In order to pay for necessary infrastructure upgrades and federally mandated programs, water and wastewater rates have increased over the last several years, and KC Water certainly recognizes the impact these increases have had on customers.

That is why KC Water asked the Mayor to appoint a task force charged with integrating community values into a funding strategy for Kansas City’s current and long-term water infrastructure needs.  Meetings began in April and will continue through the remainder of the year.  The men and women on this group have been asked to review the following:

  • To ensure that the fees collected from KC Water customers are sufficient to cover the long-term operational funding of its three utilities (Water, Wastewater, and Stormwater);
  • To meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) mandated requirements of the Overflow Control Plan (OCP);
  • To service future debt requirements for water and wastewater capital improvements; and
  • To allocate costs and charge customers in a fair and equitable manner across customer classes for each utility.

Meetings are open to the public and customers are encouraged to attend.  Meeting dates, agendas and presentations, and an online public comment form can be found at

To help customers in need, KC Water has partnered with the Mid America Assistance Coalition to assist customers who are unable to pay their bills.  KC Water has committed $2.3 Million in funds since the program was created in 2009, and we’ve been able to assist more than 5,700 customers.  To learn more about KC Water’s Customer Assistance Program, customers are encouraged to call 211 or 816-474-5112.