Artesian, Veolia file for water rate hikes

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Two water companies in Delaware have filed for rate increases.

Artesian Water, based near Newark, has  filed for a nearly 24% rate increase with the state Public Service Commission,  its first in nine  years.  Artesian has water systems in all three Delaware counties. It also has water systems in Cecil County, MD that are not a part of the rate request.

Veolia filed for  $43 million rate increase with the PSC Veolia was formerly known as Suez, with the name change taking place after the two French companies merged after Veolia launched a takeover battle. The utility’s system operates in portions of New Castle County. It also operated under the name of United Water.

Artesian cited rising costs and $158 million in improvements to its system in the past nine years.

“Artesian’s entire management team has championed cost-effective solutions, allowing us to continue to deliver the same superior services our customers have always relied on, despite current supply constraints and increased costs. Our focused strategies have provided for continued reliable water service while maintaining an economical rate for our customers for nearly ten years,” said Dian C. Taylor, Chair and CEO.

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Currently, the average residential customer pays $1.64 per day, or approximately a penny per gallon, to meet all their household water needs. If the company’s proposed rates are approved as requested, the monthly water bill for the average residential customer using 4,000 gallons per month would increase from the current monthly charge of $49.90 to $56.73, or an additional 22 cents per day.

Artesian cited numerous measures aimed at limiting rate increases

“Artesian understands the current economic stress on some of our customers. Water affordability is a critical priority, and, working with Delaware’s congressional delegation, we remain steadfast advocates of a permanent federal funding mechanism to assist low-income customers, stressing that water is an essential utility and that those in need should have access to such support,” said Nicki Taylor, president of Artesian Water Company.

The rate application submitted to the PSC for review consists of a requested increase in revenue of 23.84%, or approximately $17.54 million annually. 

Veolia also cited upgrades  to its system in filing for the rate hike.

All water utilities around the country have been facing issues related ot aging mains and pipes that are sometimes a century old.

If the  PSC  grants the request in full, the average residential water bill for Veolia customers in New Castle County would be raised  by 15 cents per day or $4.51 per month.

The company has also proposed a surcharge of $5  per month. Both Artesian and Veolia use that mechanism in paying for infrastructure needs.

Veolia noted that in view of financial challenges facing customers, the company forgave $1.3 million in Delaware bills.

Veolia rates are lower than those of Artesian. Veolia uses treated surface water, while Artesian relies on more expensive well systems.

The state’s systems do not use water from the Delaware River that saw contamination recently in Pennsylvania.

Veolia is a diversified services company that also operates trash haulers, solar energy systems and mobile water treatment plants. Artesian operates waste treatment sites.

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