In response to the coronavirus pandemic, New York American Water announced on March 25 that it is postponing its scheduled April 1 rate hike until Sept. 1. The rate hike would see households in the North Shore Water District using 8,000 gallons of water per month have a bill increase from $76.89 to $80.35. A household using 20,000 gallons of water per month would have an increase of $196.49 to $207.91.
“New York American Water recognized the need for action in these unprecedented times,” said NYAW President Lynda DiMenna, “and we are grateful to Chair [John] Rhodes and the [Public Service] Commission for their leadership and swift action to postpone the Company’s previously approved rate increase, originally scheduled to go into effect April 1, until September 1, 2020. Access to clean, safe and reliable water service is essential and we hope to provide some relief for those customers who may experience financial hardships as a result of this public health emergency.”
NYAW said it has suspended the shutting off of water services due to non-payment and service will be restored to ratepayers whose service was previously discontinued for nonpayment.
State Sen. Jim Gaughran, a Democrat from Northport, said he spoke with NYAW earlier in March about the rate increases and told them they could not go through with the rate hike at this time.
“They could not allow these rate increases to continue during what may be the crisis of our lifetime as a state and community,” he said.
Although Gaughran said the state has been preoccupied with assembling and passing its budget leading up to the April 1 deadline, he said he will continue to push legislation calling for the establishment of a public water entity in the North Shore Water District once it is settled. When Sept. 1 comes around, he said, it is possible that the state could be in an economic hole stemming from the pandemic, making the push for public water even more essential.
“Ultimately, regardless of everything else that’s going on,” Gaughran said, “[residents] need to have public water because of all the environmental issues and costs that come along with having safe drinking water. It’s just not a possibility to have people paying a private entity much more than people who have public water.”
“There cannot be anymore increases at all,” he added. “It’s unconscionable.”