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Water Company Proposes Two Increases; NYS Senator Opposes Both

tap water
William Warby, flickr

A Rockland County-based water company wants to raise its rates and impose a surcharge on customer water bills.  A New York state senator opposes both, while water company officials say the increases are needed to cover money already spent.

The two proposed increases are separate. United Water filed a proposed rate hike with the New York State Public Service Commission July 3. This comes on top of a proposed surcharge for a yet-to-be-built water desalination plant in Haverstraw, known as the Haverstraw Water Supply Project. State Senator David Carlucci, an Independent Democrat, says high utility rates are unfriendly to both residents and prospective businesses.

Rich Henning is spokesman for United Water and talks about the proposed rate hike filed July 3, to cover everyday water needs.

That’s $12 per month for the average customer. And he says short-term needs necessitating such a rate hike include improving infrastructure to weather what have become violent storms, in other words:

He says United Water filed the surcharge request about one month ago, for an increase of about $5 per month per average customer. 

United Water awaits approval for the Haverstraw Water Supply Project not only from the PSC for the surcharge request, but from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Democratic Vice Chairman of the Rockland County Legislature Alden Wolfe calls the proposed surcharge premature, and a way to pay it forward. Wolfe has requested party status in the surcharge matter, which would allow him to participate in any formal events – hearings, conferences, and the like – related to the request.

United Water’s Henning points out that alternatives to desalination were either too costly, undependable, and/or environmentally unfriendly, and that desalinating water from the Hudson River made the most sense. Yet Carlucci thinks more research is needed.

He says he would rather see an emphasis on conservation.

He says he has been speaking with Governor Andrew Cuomo on the matter, working to arrange such an issues conference, but there is no word on whether such a conference will take place. 

United Water’s Henning says the Haverstraw project carries a total estimated price tag of $123 million. As for the proposed $12 per month rate hike, if approved, customers would start seeing such an increase on their bills about this time next year.

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