Wilmington has increased its water/sewer rates by 5.7%. (Pixabay photo from Unsplash)

Wilmington water bills going up. And up. And up. And up.

Ken MammarellaBusiness, Headlines

Wilmington has increased its water/sewer rates by 5.7%. (Pixabay photo from Unsplash)

Wilmington has increased its water/sewer rates by 5.7%. Photo by Pixabay/Unsplash

Wilmington in July increased its water/sewer rates for its customers in the city and the suburbs. And it’s planning to increase them in 2024. And 2025. And 2026.

“Water/sewer rates increased on July 1 by 5.7% for all categories of our customers (city and non-city),” said John Rago, deputy chief of staff for Mayor Mike Purzycki.

“The projected increases for the next three years (fiscal years 2025, 2026, 2027) will be 5.7% each year,” he added.

“The rates are based on a six-year comprehensive water utility financial plan, which is updated every year,” he said, adding that the future projected rate increases are “subject to change as the six-year financial plan is updated.”

Wilmington serves 39,000 customers in the city and nearby suburbs.

Wilmington’s water bills, like many utilities, break down rates. There’s a monthly facilities charge, a block rate for the first gallons used not covered by the facilities charge and a second rate when lots and lots of water is used.

Wilmington’s rates have one chart for businesses inside the city, with different rates for commercial, industrial and apartments. A second chart covers the same three categories outside the city.

Two more charts cover residences inside and outside the city.

All the charts are arranged by the size of the intake water main.

All told, the charts include 154 cells with dollar figures. Rago said a link to these rates is planned off of the Public Works Department home page.

“Inside city” rates are lower than “outside city” rates because of the higher costs to maintain and expand infrastructure, Rago said. “When there is a rate increase, except on rare occasions, the increase is applied evenly across the board for every class of customer.”

Water bills elsewhere

Other local water utilities are also planning to increase their rates.

Veolia in April filed a $43 million infrastructure plan with the Delaware Public Service Commission. It would raise the average residential water bill for New Castle County customers by $4.51 per month. The PSC allowed new, provisional rates to start June 27.

Artesian – which serves a third of Delaware’s residents – a day later filed a plan to raise rates for the average homeowner by $6.83. The PSC voted in June to ask Artesian to refile the request.

Both utilities cited the cost of infrastructure investments.

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When Artesian submitted its first proposal, it said the bill for the average residential customer using 4,000 gallons per month would increase from $49.90 to $56.73.

In Wilmington, a residential customer using 4,000 gallons would pay $41.90. A residential customer outside the city would pay $63.45.

The University of Delaware’s Water Resources Center, which has been researching water rates in the region since 2000, says rates are four times what they were 20 years ago, WHYY reported in December.

“Private utility costs are about double that of municipal rates, according to the university,” the radio station added

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