|One of two Aqua sewer treatment plants in Limerick.|
Blogger's Note: The following is a letter from state Rep. Joe Ciresi, D-146th Dist., sent to Aqua sewer customers in Limerick and further reporting.
Last week, I took a stand for the 5,000 households I represent in Limerick Township, by submitting a public comment opposing the proposed rate increase by Aqua Pennsylvania Wastewater Inc., saying that the utility’s large and abrupt rate increase would amount to a doubling of rates for most of the township’s wastewater customers and would impose significant financial hardship on many.
State Rep. Joe Ciresi, D-146th.
The proposed rate increase is the first opportunity Aqua Pennsylvania has had to raise the
rates as fees had been frozen for the first three years as part of the agreement between Limerick Township and Aqua Pennsylvania at the time of sale in 2018.
I noted that when Aqua Pennsylvania purchased the sewer system from Limerick Township in 2018, the president of the utility had called the Limerick sewer system “compliant and well-maintained.” How is it that a well-maintained sewer system would now require a doubling of service rates.
It is unimaginable that the cost of providing sewer service — through an already well-maintained system — to Limerick Township residents has more than doubled in those three years.
As a public servant representing a vulnerable population hit hard by the pandemic, I’ve taken a stand against the proposed rate increase.
Aqua Pennsylvania wants to raise the average Limerick resident’s sewer bill from $35.36 to $72.94 to provide the same service they have received for years.This astronomical rate increase would pose a significant burden on a public either still dealing with or recovering from the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and would be particularly punishing on our many senior citizens who live on fixed incomes. I’m urging the PUC to reject this rate increase request.
I encourage you to voice your concerns about the rate hike by sending a letter to the PUC at P.O. Box 3265, Harrisburg, PA 17105.
-- Joe Ciresi
As The Mercury reported Aug. 26, the filing with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission was made on Aug. 20 and the announcement makes no mention of the purchase of the Limerick system, saying instead that the rate increase is needed for "the recovery of $1.1 billion the company has prudently spent to upgrade its distribution and treatment systems."The rate hike proposal is part of a statewide rate hike for both public water and public sewer systems owned by the private company.
According to its announcement, if the rate hike being sought statewide by Aqua is approved by the PUC, "a residential water bill for a typical customer using 4,000 gallons per month (would increase) from $69.35 to $81.32, an increase of $11.97 a month" — a hike of roughly 17 percent.
The company announcement also notes that "the average monthly residential wastewater bill would increase from $55.51 to $73.95" — or roughly 33 percent.
Any new base rates set by the PUC for either water or sewer would not be effective until 2022.
But the increase in Limerick is proposed to be much higher.
According to a letter received by Aqua customers in Limerick, should the full rate hike be approved by the PUC, residential customers in Limerick would see their bills climb by 89.6 percent, from $37.59 per month to $71.27 for those using 3,800 gallons per month — more than $400 per year.
As The Mercury reported three years ago, "the current average monthly rate of $38 could jump to $70 when the rate freeze enacted as a condition of the sale expires, according to documents filed as the sale was being considered by the Public Utility Commission."
"That would push the annual average rate for sewer service up by $384 — from $456 per year to $840, according to figures contained in the public documents related to the sale," The Mercury reported three years ago.
Limerick resident June Landis addresses the
Limerick Board of Supervisors Sept. 7.