Don't Get Soaked Examining Water Billing and Conservation

 It’s no secret these days that co-op and condo operating costs are going through  the roof, so to speak, and boards and managers are all looking for effective  ways to generate cost savings. Building management looks at fuel and energy  usage regularly, but one often-forgotten area is water usage. Doing a cost  analysis is a good way to determine if your metered building is paying its fair  share or is being overcharged by the utility company or a city agency.

 H2-Oh?!

 Questions about water billing began surfacing last year when the New York City  Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) began installing Automated Meter  Reading (AMR) systems to monitor customers’ water usage. Residents in Eastern sections of Queens started seeing what they  thought were inflated bills, and asked New York City Council members James  Gennaro, D-24, and Mark Weprin, D-23, to investigate.  

 Action on the water rate hikes also took place in the state Assembly, where a  bill, A02672, introduced by Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Holliswood) and  co-sponsored by Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside), proposed to limit  increases sought by the New York City Water Board to no more than 5% annually  or the current rate of inflation. The bill currently sits in the Assembly’s Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions.  

 Council Member Dan Halloran, R-19, who represents Whitestone, said such a  measure is long overdue. “High water bills hit middle class families and homeowners in the forms of higher  rents and maintenance fees,” Halloran said. “They’re another hit to the already-vulnerable pocketbooks of Queens families, who are  struggling to make ends meet as it is. By limiting the amount the rate can go up every year, we will force the  Department to tighten its belt and cut waste on the massive projects that have  put it in this situation."  

 The nearly double-digit rate increases the past five years are not only hitting  Queens’ residents, says Alan Rothschild, who is the president of Vantage Group, a  tri-state water conservation and cost management company. Increases passed by  the New York City Water Board were 9.4% in 2006-07; 11.5% in 2007-08; 14.5% in  2008-09; 12.9% in 2009-10; 12.9% in 2010-11; and the aforementioned 7.5% on  July 1, 2011.The July 2011 increase will make 2012 the 15th consecutive year  with a rate hike,” adds Halloran. The average Queens family will now pay an extra $61 annually in  water fees, but others may pay up to $877 more per year.  

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2 Comments

  • I have 5 commercial submeters in my condo building, so far three of them do not pay the water, how can we make the commecial units pay. I am and wanting to read all your articles on this topic, this is my first time to getting some help and understanding in the complex issue facing us now.
  • I rented my house in Staten Island, N.Y.to individusls who signed a written lease agreement to pay the quartely water bill. They ran up a water bill of over $3,000 in 9 months, uding water at a rate of $35.00 a day. They were evicated and the water usage has returned to normal, but I am now responsible for the bill b/c I own the house. I want to apply for water forgiveness. Am I eligible for this program under these circumstances? I cannot pay this high bill.