New York City’s Water Board (which determines the finances for Department of Environmental Protection’s water system) is proposing a water rate increase of 14% for fiscal year 2010. According to an article in the Daily News, the rate increase is needed because New Yorkers are using less water, meaning that DEP is earning less revenue. Local politicians are outraged that this would actually punish people for conserving water, rather then reward them.
DEP’s website does say that the rate increase is due, in part, to “a significant decline in consumption.” But they also stress that much of the rate increase is needed to support non-discretionary spending, debt payments and major water infrastructure projects.
It is certainly unfortunate that a rate increase would seem to punish people for conserving water, but it seems like updating DEP’s rate structure could help lessen the burden placed on those who are doing their part to conserve. DEP commissioned a study of its rate structure to determine alternatives and configurations that work for other water utilities across the country and the agency is currently holding public meetings to get public and stakeholder feedback on the ideas proposed in the study. Hopefully they will be able to find a happy medium- which takes care of NYC’s residents and NYC’s water.