EAST ORANGE, NJ:  Effective August 1, 2015, bills to customers of the East Orange Water Commission (EOWC) will reflect a temporary rate increase to aggressively address a $3.9 million deficit and balance the budget of EOWC in 2016.

The increase, which averages approximately $43 more per month, is based on a household of 3.4 people. By February 2016, the rate will drop to a corrected rate of approximately $20-$25 more per month per household, an average that is consistent with market rates across the state. Ultimately, the final increase will vary from customer to customer depending upon water use, efficiency of plumbing fixtures and appliances, among other factors.

A recent comparison of East Orange Water Commission rates to other utilities in New Jersey has revealed that current rates are well below industry averages. Since 1996, the average rate increase for East Orange ratepayers has been approximately 1%, which is well below the industry averages of 5%. Increasing rates to market rates next year will help stabilize future rate increases.

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“This increase allows us to right size our operation once and for all,” said Michele Antley, President of EOWC. “The mismanagement of previous leadership and lack of oversight by the former governing bodies have forced us to take this measure. As one of only three municipal-owned water companies in New Jersey, we believe this one-time temporary rate increase is an absolutely necessity to give us what is needed over the next several years to put EOWC back on the road to fiscal recovery and to improve the quality of the water delivered to our customers.”

Working in concert with the East Orange City Council, the city’s administration and one of the leading water companies in the world, EOWC has developed a strategic and comprehensive plan to improve the system’s aging infrastructure and restore a system where quality, cost efficiency, and environmental compliance are top priorities for generations to come. Included in this plan is an itemized prioritization list that covers projected cost estimates from now until 2033.

“Short-term solutions were never a consideration,” added Antley. “We arrived at this decision by keeping both the immediate and future needs of the city and our customers in mind.”

Please visit our website at www.eastorange-nj.org/departments/water for regular updates, water conservation tips and other news.    

For more information, please contact the East Orange Office of Public Information at 973-266-5153 or publicinformation@eastorange-nj.gov.