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2005 Water Rates News


December, 2005

Storm water utility fee may be assessed in Wheeler, Oregon

A storm water utility would establish a funding source for storm water management projects and would be its own separate utility, operating like a business. The final draft of the Storm Water Master Plan was approved by the council in September. This plan will guide the city in its efforts to manage storm water in Wheeler. The master plan identifies relatively few intakes and pipelines in Wheeler. According to the plan, most of the storm water in the city runs through ditches or through culverts and many of these are filled with sediment. Headlight-Herald_ 12/27/05

Boston water and sewer bills set to climb
MWRA's big debt burdens ratepayers

Water and sewer rates in Boston could increase this week by an average of nearly 10 percent, the largest hike in a decade.  The planned increase mirrors hikes in other communities served by the debt-heavy Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. Additional increases are projected for the next several years.  ''The future does not look very bright," said Joseph E. Favaloro, executive director of the MWRA Advisory Board, which represents the 60 cities and towns in Eastern Massachusetts served by the utility.  The Boston Globe_12/14/05

Anger at South West Water's £200m payout
Pennon, the owner of South West Water, provoked anger among customers yesterday by announcing plans to hand back £200m to shareholders just nine months after being allowed to raise household bills by 25 per cent.  The company, which has the highest water charges in the country, defended the payout to shareholders by saying that its 750,000 customers would also benefit from the balance sheet restructuring through a one-off rebate of £20, costing a total of £15m.  But the Consumer Council for Water in the South West said there was no cause for celebration. "This good news does not diminish overall concerns about the disproportionate price for water services for consumers in the South West region who frankly can see no light at the end of the tunnel in terms of relatively steep increases," Charles Howeson, said the council's chairman.  The Independent_12/8/05

UK Water firm Pennon to return cash after profit leaps
Water firm Pennon Group (PNN.L: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Thursday it plans to hand investors back 200 million pounds after its half-year profit leapt by a fifth, helped in the main by a hike in customer bills. The company, which provides regulated water and sewerage services to around 1.6 million people, beat forecasts with a 21.6 percent increase in profit before tax and exceptional items to 60.8 million pounds in the six months ended September. Pennon was expected to make 57.7 - 60.5 million pounds pretax, according to four analysts polled by Reuters, with the average at 58.8 million. Industry regulator Ofwat told Pennon last year that its South West Water unit could raise household bills 25 percent in real terms over five years from April, when the first 12.5 percent increase kicked in. Analysts say that means its customers can expect to pay an average of around 450 pounds a year by 2009-10 -- more than anywhere else in the country.  Reuters_12/8/05

Profit rise after water bill hike in the UK
Northumbrian Water has reported a 54% increase in half-year profits following a recent rise in water bills.

Pre-tax profits were £64.3m for the six months to 30 September, and the interim dividend was lifted to 3.52p a share, from 2.87p a year earlier.  Water and sewerage charges rose by 9.9% in the wake of a regulatory review.  The company provides water and sewerage services to 2.6m customers in the North East, as well as water services to 1.7m people in Essex and Suffolk.  Ofwat, the UK water regulation agency, approved a £28 rise per bill by 2010 because of the cost of upgrading mains and meeting "tough and challenging" efficiency targets.  BBC News 12/7/05

November, 2005

Leesburg, Virginia water rate increase riles out-of-towners

Demanding fair and equitable treatment from Leesburg's Town Council, out-of-town residents who rely on the town's water system filled the council chamber Tuesday to urge reconsideration of a planned 36 percent increase in their water and sewer bills. If the increase is approved by the council, it will take effect Jan. 1. In-town rates would remain unchanged. Under a two-tier system enacted in 1998, out-of-town customers, who account for 20 percent of Leesburg's water and sewer business, pay rates 50 percent higher than those paid by town residents. The council is considering doubling that percentage so that such customers pay twice the in-town rate. Washington Post_ 11/27/05 (logon required)

Penna water utility seeks rate hike again: Customers of Aqua Pa. would see an average increase next year of 14.4%.

Residential water bills for most of Aqua Pennsylvania's 340,000 customers in the Philadelphia suburbs would rise about 14.4 percent next year, under a rate proposal under review by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.  The rate plan, which state Consumer Advocate Irwin "Sonny" Popowsky said yesterday that he would challenge, would increase a typical residential customer's bill from $37.86 a month to $43.30 a month. Rate changes could be steeper on a percentage basis for customers of some systems, such as those in Bensalem and Bristol, that Aqua Pennsylvania has recently acquired.  Aqua Pennsylvania said Friday that it was seeking the increase to help pay for $274.5 million in investments in its Pennsylvania systems over a two-year period, including about $250 million being spent in the Philadelphia region.  Aqua Pennsylvania serves a total of about 400,000 customers in the state. It is a subsidiary of Aqua America Inc. of Bryn Mawr, which serves about 2.5 million people in 13 states.  Philadelphia Inquirer_11/23/05

Hundreds protest S. California water rate increases

It's one of life's most basic necessities, but many in Fontana feel they are paying too much for it.  That's why hundreds of Fontana residents came out for two meetings on Nov. 18 to voice their contempt for how much money is coming out of their wallets.  Their discord was directed at the Fontana Water Company, a subsidiary of Rosemead-based San Gabriel Valley Water Company, during a public hearing of the California Public Utilities Commission.  Fontana Mayor Mark Nuaimi did not hide his anger and disgust when addressing the panel. "I am angry we have to fight an unjust rate increase once again," Nuaimi said. "(The San Gabriel Valley Water Company) is currently collecting a rate that wasn't justified and they've come back for more. You are currently 45 percent higher than others in the region and you want more."  Fontana Herald News_11/23/05

Denver Water approves rate hike

The Denver Water Board approved a rate increase that will cost homeowners an additional $2.92 to $4.14 per bill. The board also approved a new rate structure designed to discourage high water use. The rate increase and new rate structure will take effect Jan. 1, 2006. Under the new plan, homeowners in Denver will pay $1.84 per thousand gallons for water use of up to 22,000 gallons per bill, up from $1.71 per thousand this year. Suburban customers will pay $2.92 per thousand gallons, up from $2.76 this year. Bills are sent every two months. High volume water customers — those using more than 80,000 gallons per bill — will pay $3.59 per thousand gallons, while suburban customers will pay $5.69 per thousand gallons.  The Rocky Mountain News_9/14/05

Pawtucket, Rhode Island Water Supply Board seeks 38% rate hike

For the second time in as many years, the Pawtucket Water Supply Board (PWSB) is attempting to charge Valley Falls water users double the rate of other customers. But local officials said they intend to fight the water board’s proposed 38 percent hike when they go before the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) next week. If the rate hikes are approved as proposed, all other ratepayers in Pawtucket and Central Falls would see only a 17 percent increase. The surcharge to Cumberland users is an alternative proposal to an across-the-board 20.3 percent increase. Woonsocket Call_ 9/4/05

July, 2005

Suburban Detroit water fees keep getting higher

Homeowners across Metro Detroit are feeling the impact of aging water and sewer pipes in their wallets and their lawns, and there may be more to come in the future.  Several communities have just set rate increases, some as high as 15 percent, because of adjustments in the cost of water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, as well as extra costs imposed by each municipality. The department raised its wholesale water prices to the 126 communities it serves by an average of 4 percent.  But rates are rising by far more than that in some communities. Detroit News_7/27/05

New York drinking water tax urged

If New Yorkers want clean drinking water, they should ante up and pay for it.  That's the word from Putnam County Executive Robert Bondi, who has suggested New York City residents chip in $2 a year each to keep oil, pesticides and septic waste out of their upstate water supply.  Putnam and Westchester County residents also would be hit with the tax, which would be used to comply with new provisions of the Clean Water Act.  New York Daily News _7/18/05

New tiered water plan for Scottsdale Ariz. coming
The city of Scottsdale will implement a three-tier system for calculating household water bills in November, in an effort to encourage water conservation. The new billing system will impact older homes with large lawns, dense shrubberies and flowers.  Newszap.com_7/11/05

Colorado water rates increased in past four year

Water rates in Colorado have greatly increased in the past four years as utilities deal with reduced usage and drought conditions, a 10-city survey by the Rocky Mountain News found.  Monthly service charges jumped an average of 25 percent, basic water-use fees increased 9 percent and costs for high-volume water use rose 56 percent on average, the newspaper reported Tuesday, July 5.  The Casper Star-Tribune _7/5/05

Water Works went over budget, records show

The Birmingham Water Works Board spent more than twice the $2.5 million budgeted last year for consultants and outside engineering work, records show.  Fees for consultants, engineers and public relations cost the system $2.7 million more than what was planned in the system's $55.9 million 2004 operating and maintenance budget.  The Water Works is planning to increase rates by 25 percent over the next 18 months to compensate for decreased revenues, system repairs and capital projects. Rates will increase by 6.5 percent on July 1. Other increases are planned for Jan. 1, 2006, and Jan. 1, 2007.  The Birmingham News_5/23/05 logon required

New Yorkers face 40% rate increase by 2009

The increase will mean an extra $220 a year for the average single-family homeowner, jumping from $554 to $774. The relatively minor 3 percent increase proposed for this year — an election year — is less steep than the 5.5 percent increases of the previous two years. According to projections, though, water rates will immediately increase another 5.6 percent next year, followed by three years of 8.7 percent increases, which will be the largest rise in water rates in 15 years, and the biggest five-year increase since the early '90s. New York Post_ 4/24/05

March, 2005

San Francisco to see steep hike in water, sewer rates

Under higher fees approved by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the average residential water user will see about a 6 percent increase in bimonthly combined water and sewer bills this year and 20 percent by next year. Under the new structure, a bill of $60 would jump to $63.54 starting in July and then to $72.45 by July 2006. The new rates, which the commission approved unanimously, are part of the funding plan for rebuilding the $4.3 billion Hetch Hetchy water system and a $150 million wastewater improvement program. San Francisco Chronicle_ 3/23/05

Massive water bill comes due for Santa Fe, New Mexico

City water customers, who already pay some of the highest water rates in the country, can expect to see bigger monthly bills in the near future. In addition, city voters this month are being asked to subsidize Santa Fe’s water system by raising the local gross-receipts tax rate. After decades of putting off major improvements, a growing community is looking at spending $250 million over the next 20 years to upgrade its water system. A major chunk of that money would go to the city’s share of a project to begin diverting water directly from the Rio Grande. The New Mexican_ 3/6/05


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