In what’s become an annual rite of spring in New York City, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recommended a water rate increase Friday.

Calling it the lowest suggested increase in a decade, the DEP formally requested that the New York City Water Board raise rates by 3.24 percent, even lower than the 4.9 percent increase projected last year.

For owners of single-family homes, their yearly water bills will climb about $33 per year, from $1,025 to $1,058, based on the average consumption of 80,000 gallons per year. Multi-family homeowners will pay, on average, about $23 more per unit annually, from $666 to $689 based on an average annual water consumption of 52,000 gallons.

The DEP will also ask the Water Board to continue freezing the minimum charge for homeowners who use approximately 100 gallons or less per day; these customers are charged $1.27 per day, or $463.55 per year.

“By implementing effective costs controls, refinancing higher interest debt and reducing the rental payment, we are able to deliver the lowest water rate increase in a decade, and the 25 percent of single family homeowners who use the least water will not receive any increase at all,” DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd said. “In addition, we have put together a package of initiatives to provide relief to nearly 50,000 additional low-income, senior and disabled customers.”

The package Lloyd mentioned includes the proposed expansion of the Home Water Assistance Program, which provides annual credits to low-income families who qualify for the federal Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP); credits for those who enroll in the DEP’s monthly e-billing program; and $100 credits for those who participate in the lead and cooper monitoring program.

Though the DEP touted the reduced increase, one elected official — Councilman Donovan Richards, who chairs the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee — said the city needed to ease homeowners’ burdens even further.

“The financial burden of offsetting the costs of maintaining the city’s vast sewer and water system cannot be placed on single-family homeowners, many of whom are seniors,” Richards said. “Considering the hardships that many lower-income families are facing, it is important to retain reduction measures — including a minimum $1.27 daily flat rate and expanding the Home Water Payment Assistant Program to absorb these increased costs.”

Queens residents will get their chance to speak for or against the water rate increase on Thursday, April 30, at the Water Board’s public hearing in Long Island City. The hearing will take place at 7 p.m. at LaGuardia Community College, 45-50 Van Dam St., Conference Room E-242. Click here for more details.

The Water Board is expected to formally adopt water rates for the city’s 2016 fiscal year on May 8; the new rates will take effect on July 1.

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