The old saying about “when it rains, it pours” has certainly rung true in Abilene for the last two months. Rain is a rare blessing in West Texas, but too much of a good thing can come with unexpected problems.

One issue I noticed pretty quickly when I arrived in Abilene in May is just how easily overwhelmed the runoff system is. I feel like I’ve driven on more of Abilene's streets when wet than dry. The Big Country area sustained so much rain that it canceled events over the Memorial Day weekend this year.

Unfortunately, you might not like how the City of Abilene plans to fund improvements that prevent flooding. 

A proposed rate increase would see Abilenians eventually paying about $25 more per month on their water bill, to back three different improvement plans for city water infrastructure. Besides fixing wastewater collection and moving flooded rainwater, water treatment and distribution planning will also be covered by the increase.

The total estimated cost for all three plans is to the tune of $407 million, over the next 30 years. “[It’s] the most manageable way to handle with having the least impact on customers that we can,” Director of Water Utility Rodney Taylor said in a city council meeting

Thankfully for us water-buying folks in Abilene, the cost hike won’t come all at once. Rates will increase about 8 percent each year until 2027 when they’ll level out and then decrease in price in 2035. That 8 percent increase per year (starting October of 2021) still comes out to a total increase of 480% by the year 2027. 

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With such a monumental expected cost for the projects being thrust on Abilenians, you can’t help but wonder if there’s a better way to fund such an undertaking. This is not the first time outdated infrastructure has been used to justify hiking City water prices, either.

If this rainy cycle continues over and over, though, rising water bills may be the comfier alternative to swapping your truck for a canoe and donning a wetsuit for work.

LOOK: See how much gasoline cost the year you started driving

To find out more about how has the price of gas changed throughout the years, Stacker ran the numbers on the cost of a gallon of gasoline for each of the last 84 years. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (released in April 2020), we analyzed the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline from 1976 to 2020 along with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for unleaded regular gasoline from 1937 to 1976, including the absolute and inflation-adjusted prices for each year.

Read on to explore the cost of gas over time and rediscover just how much a gallon was when you first started driving.


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