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Sep 2015

United Water Rate Increase


By Chris Lundy

United Water Toms River customers will see an increase in this upcoming water bill, officials said.

Utility companies apply to the Board of Public Utilities for permission to increase. Members of the public and local officials often protest the increase, and the BPU grants an increase at about half of what was proposed.

It would have been an 18 percent increase. This would have been a monthly increase of $7.57. After a six month review, the Board of Public Utilities granted an 8.46 percent increase. This will be an increase of $3.52 a month.

“I’m partially pleased” that the increase wasn’t in the full amount, Mayor Carmen Amato said. “But I’m still not satisfied.”

In recent years, portions of township budgets and school district budgets have been required by law to keep increases less than 2 percent.

“The Board of Public Utilities really needs to hold water companies and other utilities to the same standard,” he said.

The Township Council also issued a resolution urging the placement of an Ocean County resident on the BPU. This would be someone who understands the unique needs of Ocean County and its residents.

The new rates became effective Aug. 29.

According to press releases by United Water Toms River, the application was made in February to cover $5.2 million in capital projects benefitting the area.

Included in these projects are an enhancement to the North Dover Booster Pump Station, to improve water pressure and delivery during seasonal demands; upgrades and rehabilitation of wells; water treatment; modifications to back-up pumps within storage facilities; and replacement of approximately 2 miles of water mains.

According to United Water, this is the first rate increase that has been proposed since 2013. The company is facing increasing fixed costs, while the amount of water being used is going down, said director of operations Jim Mastrokalos, in the release.

“The average United Water Toms River customer pays about $1.30 per day for a day’s worth of water, which is far less than the cost of one gallon of bottled water purchased in a supermarket or convenience store,” Mastrokalos said.

United Water services about 120,000 people in Berkeley, Toms River and South Toms River.

Those who need help paying their water bills are encouraged to apply for grants through UW Cares. This program provides $100 yearly grants to customers who meet certain standards.