Opinion: Water bill explained

Dear Editor,

I have been reading the call-ins about water bills and thought I would throw in my two-cents. My bills have increased to about $3 more per month over the last two years, an increase of abut $36 per year, for the same amount of water. I called the Public Service Commission (PSC), but their phone message says to resolve any issues with the utility before contacting them. (The PSC address and phone number is on the back of every bill.) So I called Suez to discuss it, twice. I also received a notice from Suez in September 2018 explaining some of the details of the changes that have been implemented.

In August 2018 they increased the price of 100 cubic feet of water (1 CCF) from 5.9837 to 7.15 cents. The increase was required by the PSC, the Suez rep told me, to encourage water conservation. When I asked why we needed to conserve water, I was told this is an issue for high population areas like downstate, and we pay the same rate. So, my take of this is that we have higher water bills so that downstate consumers don’t have even higher water bills.

In October 2018, they started monthly billing, which was supposedly to help consumers “budget and plan their water use” as well as “promote conservation, help identify household leaks, and reduce theft of services.” Bills now include a $16 per month “Facility Fee” for the meter, which is supposedly offset by other fees being dropped. This is complicated and I don’t know how they slice and dice it. I have had this water meter for nearly 20 years and never before had to pay a fee for it. I think the charges that they dropped had run out, such as the Tank Maintenance fee.

At that time, they also gave each consumer four free CCF every month before charging for this remainder. That was later changed to two free CCF, and now, since August 2019, it is zero CCF. This, I was told, was so that the changes were not too much of a shock.

This is a little confusing, I know, but I hope it helps.


Barry Ives

Owego, N.Y.

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