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Get ready to pay more for water if you live in Erie County

Posted at 4:38 PM, Nov 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-01 16:38:34-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Erie County Water Authority has approved a 2020 budget that raises rates for customers.

The average home will pay $4.90 more per year, according to water authority estimates based on 70,000 gallons of use annually. Even with the increase, the authority says its cost per 1,000 gallons is the second lowest among municipal water providers in Western New York.

The revenue will go toward operational and infrastructure costs, including $50.2 million for system-wide upgrades. Those improvements include new transmission and distribution mains at a cost of nearly $30 million. Another $7.2 million will be used to replace the North Ball Storage Tank in Amherst.

The upgrades are part of a five year, $236 million infrastructure investment plan by the ECWA, which provides water to more than 550,000 people in the area.

The rate hike comes 16 months after New York State released a blistering report on the management of the authority, accusing it of operating under a veil of secrecy. In 2017, A 7 Eyewitness News I-Team investigation found of the nearly 280 employees at the water authority, 10 percent - or 28 employees - earned more than $100,000 in 2016. A new board and commissioner have since taken over.