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Time to Swim In Dep Books

After Water Rate Hike, Pol Calls For Audit

Still steamed over the latest increase in New York City’s water rate, a local lawmaker is now calling for an audit of the city Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the New York City Water Board to find out where the money is going.

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder has asked City Comptroller John Liu to look into both entities to “accurately track how the money is being used.” While the DEP is responsible for operating and maintaining the city’s water and sewer systems, the Water Board sets the rate by which customers are charged for those services.

Back in May, the Water Board approved a water rate hike of seven percent; Goldfeder claimed that this resulted in a 78 percent jump in the price of water services since 2005. Based on an average consumption of 80,000 gallons of water per year, each single family homeowner will see an increase from $877 to $939 per year, about an additional $5 per month. The average multi-family unit with metered billing will have their bills jump (on average) from $571 to $610 per year for each dwelling unit, an additional $3.25 per month.

The DEP had recommended the increase to the Water Board in order to cover costs related to “debt service” on projects resulting from “unfunded mandates” from the state and federal governments related to water quality. These included the construction of a new ultraviolet water disinfection facility and the Croton Water Filtration Plant.

“Our water rates, which are determined by a select few, have continued to drastically climb year after year for hard-working Queens families,” Goldfeder said in a press release issued on Monday, July 16. “What little transparency is offered now is not enough. Our families deserve to know where their money is going and if it is being spent wisely.”

Goldfeder had spoken out against the water rate increase at an April public hearing held by the Water Board at Christ the King Regional High School and in an op-ed published in the Times Newsweekly that same month.

He noted that he has introduced legislation which would cap annual water rate increases by no more than four percent.

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