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Your Erie County water bill explained

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Posted at 4:29 PM, May 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-17 20:13:41-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — “This is how I do my dishes now,” Laura Brown said standing in her kitchen over a sink full of water.

It’s safe to say Brown’s taking water conservation seriously.

“I don’t want to waste any water, so I wash them all, and then I rinse them,” she explained of her calculated process.

And, for good reason. Earlier this month, her water bill increased, significantly.

“Every three months, it was about $100. So, I figured that was a normal bill with using water outside. Then, all of the sudden, I got a $270 bill.”

REPORTER Ali Touhey: I think it’s safe to say money is tight for everybody. What does that mean for you, financially?
BROWN: Financially, it means something is going to have to go without

Brown lives in the Village of Alden. Turns out, she had a leaky meter.

But, plenty of you believe you’re seeing an unjust increase in your water bill. The 7 Eyewitness News Facebook Page received several hundred comments after asking you whether you’d seen your water bill rise.

So, we asked Erie County Water Authority Chief Financial Officer Karen Prendergast to explain water rates under its entity.

Every ECWA bill includes two charges: a commodity charge and an infrastructure investment charge. The commodity charge is based on your water usage. The infrastructure charge varies. “Customers with bigger meters pay more for infrastructure, and that’s as it should be,” said Prendergast.

The average customer commodity bill (cost per 1,000 gallons) for 2021’S 1st quarter (January-March) was $51.38. The quarterly infrastructure investment charge (IIC) is $21.33 or $85.32, annually. So, the total cost of delivered water for the average ECWA customer is $72.71 per quarter or $290.84 per year.

Prendergast said some municipalities also tack on an additional surcharge. The amount is calculated by the municipality and it covers the cost of joining the water authority instead of handling water services on its own. “Those customers would pay more than a municipality that did not have a surcharge,” Prendergast said.

Currently, the Town of Evans has the highest surcharge at $4.40 per 1,000 gallons, meaning Evans home and business owners pay the most for water under the Erie County Water Authority. If you live inside or outside of the Village of Blasdell, the City of Tonawanda, or the Village of Williamsville, you’re also paying more since each currently adds its own surcharge.

“That money is collected by us and remitted to those municipalities on a quarterly basis,” Predergast explained.

Erie County Water Authority doesn’t service every town and village in Erie County. For example, both the Town of Tonawanda and the City of Buffalo handle their own water supply. So too does the Village of Alden where Laura Brown lives. While she knows what’s causing her bill to increase, it doesn’t make it any easier.

“My money is very tight. I have everything planned out monthly how it has to go. So, when I get a bill like this, it really throws a wrench into my budget.”

For assistance paying your water bill, click here.