Water Rates Changing Due To Increase From City of Philadelphia

Reprinted from the Bucks County Courier Times (dated: 12/03/2010) – by Peter Hall

Water rates on the rise in some locales

– Peter Hall

Residents and municipal water companies supplied by Bucks County’s public water and sewer authority will see the price of H2O increase in the new year.
Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority will increase the rate it charges municipal water companies by 28 percent, from $2.68 to $3.44 per 1,000 gallons. BCWSA’s 16,000 direct customers in Middletown, Lower Southampton and New Hope will also see their water bills increase by about $4 a month for a typical user.

That’s because the authority’s largest supplier, the Philadelphia Water Department, has increased the rate it charges the authority for water piped into Bucks County.

Spokesman Patrick Cleary said the local water companies will likely pass the cost along to their customers, but was unable to say what the increase would be.

For consumers who receive water directly from BCSWA, two components of their bills will increase. The flat rate will increase from $8.33 to $9.83 a month and the usage rate will increase from $3.35 to $3.95 per 1,000 gallons. The average customer’s bill will increase from $22.29 to $26.29.

Cleary said BCWSA attempted to negotiate the rate with the Philadelphia Water Department, but the city made clear that most terms were set in stone. He said the authority has also questioned the operating costs passed along to the county, which have increased 152 percent since 2008 while the city’s costs have increased by only 31 percent.

Cleary said the authority has taken steps to begin arbitration to reduce the charges, but could not say when a resolution might be reached. A spokeswoman for the PWD did not return calls Wednesday.

BCWSA purchases water from the PWD and pipes it to homes throughout Lower Bucks and local water companies in Bensalem, Newtown, Northampton and Upper Southampton.

The rate increase will have an impact on water bills for BCWSA’s direct customers in addition to those served by local water companies. Cleary was unable to provide the authority’s retail rate or say how much a typical customer’s bill might increase.

The authority was created by the Bucks County commissioners in 1962 to assist municipalities in building water and sewer systems.