The New Jersey State Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has approved an increase in water rates for residential and commercial customers of United Water Toms River, which serves approximately 120,000 residents in Toms River, South Toms River and Berkeley. The typical residential customer, using an average of 5,300 gallons of water per month, will see an average bill increase of $6.75 a month or approximately 22 cents per day. The increase was primarily related to water system improvements and inflationary impacts on overall operating expenses, and will provide the company with an additional $4.9 million in annual revenue.
“This rate award was directly related to the water quality improvements that were made at the Holly Water Treatment Plant in Toms River and the Berkeley Radionuclide Treatment Plant on Mule Road in Berkeley Township,” said Rick Pfleiderer, director of operations for United Water. “We fully realize that this is a difficult economy right now. However, like many water companies across the nation, we continue to confront the challenges of aging water infrastructure and the need to ensure the safety and reliability of our water system.”
Increase Funds Major Infrastructure Projects
Pfleiderer explained that the Holly Water Treatment Plant was extensively upgraded last year using the latest water treatment technology for iron removal and disinfection. In addition to decreasing discolored water issues, the $10.1 million upgrades provide greater pumping capacity to supply greater water pressure to meet increased customer demand during peak periods.
In September of 2009, the company started construction of the new Berkeley Radionuclide Treatment Plant on Mule Road, which was mandated by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Located in the Holiday City South area in the Township of Berkeley, the plant, which went live in March of this year, removes naturally occurring radionuclides from the water. The company also installed a new 20-inch diameter, 4,000-foot pipeline and made significant upgrades to the three Berkeley wells and high service pumps. These investments totaled $12.3 million and provide customers with improved water quality as well as more efficient and reliable service.
“We try to keep water rates as low as possible, especially during difficult economic times, but we are not immune from cost pressures that all businesses face,” said Pfleiderer. “We fully realize our responsibility to provide excellent water service in a cost-effective manner through utilization of cost efficiencies. The rates granted to the company by the BPU are still the lowest among the largest regulated water utilities.”
United Water offers an aggressive water conservation program which helps customers save water and lower their water bill. In addition, the company also offers assistance through its UW Cares program for customers who cannot pay their water bill due to a financial hardship.
Water Service is still a Great Value
The typical United Water Toms River residential customer is paying about $1.30 for a full day’s worth of water - which is less than the cost of one gallon of bottled water. ”Water remains a bargain compared to other daily services,” said Pfleiderer. “In fact, according to the United States Congressional Budget Office, combined water and sewer bills nationally average less than 1% of household expenditures. Monthly water utility bills are also substantially less than monthly cable television expenses.”
About United Water
United Water Toms River provides water services to about 50,000 customers in Toms River, South Toms River, and Berkeley Townships. Its parent company, United Water, provides water and wastewater services to 7.3 million people in the United States. In addition to owning and operating 20 regulated utilities, United Water operates 225 municipal and industrial systems through public-private partnerships and contract agreements including three of the nation's largest water and wastewater contracts. The company’s affiliate, Utility Service Company, is the nation’s leading provider of long-term water tank management contracts with municipal and industrial clients. Founded in 1869, United Water is a subsidiary of SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT.
About SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT
Natural resources are not infinite. Each day, SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT (Paris: SEV, Brussels: SEVB) and its subsidiaries deal with the challenge to protect resources by providing innovative solutions to industries and to millions of people. SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT supplies drinking water to 90 million people, provides wastewater treatment services for 58 million people and collects the waste produced by 46 million people. SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT has 65,900 employees and, with its presence on a global scale, is the world’s leader exclusively dedicated to environmental services. SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT, a 35.4% GDF SUEZ affiliate, reported sales turnover of 12.3 billion Euros ($17.1 billion USD) at the end of financial year 2009.