Government

New Brunswick Raises Water and Sewer Rates

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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Customers of the New Brunswick Water Utility can expect to pay more in sewer and water fees.

The New Brunswick City Council raised the water and sewer rates through two ordinances adopted at its June 21 meeting.

Homes, commercial businesses and industrial operations will see a 5 percent increase in their sewer rates beginning July 1, City Administrator Thomas Loughlin III said. After that, the rate will rise an additional 5 percent each year, in 2018, 2019 and 2020, he said.

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He attributed the city’s decision to increase sewer rates mid-year to rising sewage treatment costs being handed down from the Middlesex County Utilities Authority, which takes New Brunswick’s waste. The city has had to defer some 2016 charges owed to the authority, Loughlin said.

“We’d like to get even with them,” Loughlin said.

What’s more, he noted, is that the city’s water utility has begun adding 600 pounds of carbon to its raw water supply each day. That’s part of a campaign to remove a chemical being poured into the Delware & Raritan Canal by a state authority to address an invasive weed called Hydrilla.

While New Brunswick officials believe they will indeed scrub the chemical, the water utility will be left with a “big blob of sludge” from the carbon, Loughlin said. It will then send it to the county utilities authority through the sewer system, jacking up the city water utility’s tab, he said.

Under the terms of the ordinance, the sewer rate for homes and businesses will hit $54.27 per 1,000 cubic feet come July. The rate will then climb to $56.98 in 2018, $59.83 in 2019 and $62.82 in 2020, according to the ordinance.

Industrial rates are also set to increase over that period, according to the document.

Another ordinance cements a 5 percent increase to the water rate in 2018, followed by 6 percent increases in both 2019 and 2020, according to the document.

The move follows a 33.6 percent hike in fees charged by the state Water Supply Authority—which owns and operates the D&R Canal, one of the city’s two sources of drinking water—to the New Brunswick Water Utility, Loughlin said. The state authority is dredging a portion of the canal and repairing a dam, two projects that contributed to the cost increase, he said.

The city takes more than 10 million gallons of water per day from the canal, he said.

Plus, Loughlin noted, the city water utility expects to take on debt to rebuild basins at its treatment plant in 2019.

“So we have established what we think is a fair rate,” he said.

According to the ordinance, the water rate will hit $51.01 per 1,000 cubic feet—which is also the minimum quarterly charge—next year. That figure will climb to $54.07 in 2019 and $57.31 in 2020, according to the document.

The typical four-person household pays roughly $200 in water and sewer fees per quarter, Loughlin said.

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