Tiered water rates resurface

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By Arin McKenna


The Board of Public Utilities will hold its second public hearing on a proposed restructuring of its billing system to a tiered water rate on Wednesday. 

Department of Public Utilities staff is proposing a 6-percent rate increase across the board to address high capital and maintenance costs. The question before BPU is whether to add that increase to the current flat rate or institute a tiered seasonal rate, which aligns charges with the cost of providing water.

 “The higher rates for higher tiers are caused by production costs, what it costs to manage the system. It’s not a conservation rate,” said Robert Westervelt, deputy utilities manager for finance and administration for the Department of Public Utilities.  “The purpose is not to encourage people to use less water but to allocate the costs to what drives the costs, which is higher usage.” 

DPU reports that based on historical data, 21 percent of residential customers use 56 percent of the total residential water consumed during the summer, when water consumption more than doubles.

 The increased demand requires additional costs for pumping and delivering water and puts additional wear and tear on infrastructure, accelerating the need for replacement. 

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