Pennsylvania public water utilities say Senate bill will force up rates

Pennsylvania public water utilities say Senate bill will force up rates
June 8, 2022 The Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Legislation criticized by opponents as a vehicle for-profit water companies to take over municipal water authorities in Pennsylvania by imposing expensive regulations on them passed the Republican-controlled state Senate on Tuesday.

Opponents also warned that the bill will precipitate ratepayer increases when water authorities must meet the new regulations or after they are forced to sell out to for-profit water companies.

The bill passed, 27-23, with the backing of Senate Republican leadership. Opposition crossed party lines. The sponsor, Sen. Pat Stefano, R-Fayette, said the bill will create “uniform safety, security and quality standards for all water and wastewater suppliers.”

The bill goes to the House.

Under it, water systems must submit asset management plans to state regulators for approval within a year-and-a-half. The plans are designed to determine when equipment must be upgraded and must include a cybersecurity program that is developed by an accredited professional.

During floor debate, one opponent, Sen. John Kean, D-Delaware, said the bill will make it easier for major water companies — Pennsylvania subsidiaries of Aqua America and American Water backed the bill — to take over municipal water companies, against the interests of rate payers.

The Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Association wrote to senators in April, saying its members worry about a “significant increase in rates to the consumer.”

Because of the financial burden, “this could force low-income communities to sell their rights to clean and reasonably priced water to private industry,” the association wrote.

In a statement, Pennsylvania American Water said the bill requires water and wastewater systems to adopt standard industry practices that benefit customers and taxpayers. Aqua Pennsylvania said the legislation improves water quality and makes utilities more accountable to their customers.

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Featured image: A water bill from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. (Photo Credit: GLN) 

1 Comment

  1. Linda Martine 2 years ago

    In my county,specifically my township our tax dollars are misappropriated. There is no reason that the township I live in should not be able to afford the facility upgrades to improve our water system.!! They recently sold multiple properties in our township, that were not supposed to be sold. To a contractor to build 55 and older communities. Generating multiple millions of dollars in tax revenue not to mention the sale price of the properties. I have been suspicious of our water quality for years, I have so many acquaintances , neighbors friends and relatives including myself that have come down with cancer. There is black sludge in our incoming faucets, the further you get away from our area the less black sludge you see. I blame my cancer, my son’s cancer, my mother’s cancer twice and brain tumor, and all of my neighbors I think there’s like seven of them that I can mentioned off about my head within a two block radius that have cancer…. I blame it all on the water!!!

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