Salt Lake residents will have to pay an average $2.40 annual increase in their water bills, starting July 1, the City Council has decided.

However, residents will see a net decrease in their bills, as sewer rates will be decreased by an average of $4.80 annually, said LeRoy Hooton, city public utilities director.The additional water surcharge will generate $250,000 per year, which the council has earmarked to buy land in City Creek, Parleys and Little Cottonwood canyons to protect the city's watershed.

The city has targeted $1.2 million of land, or about 600 acres, for purchase, to ensure future water quality based on a recently adopted Watershed Management Plan.

The city now owns about 22,825 acres of watershed land, compared with 25,537 acres in private ownership.