One of the most difficult problems ALCOSAN faces is how to fund the Clean Water Plan.
Despite the requirements in federal and state laws to undertake the plan on behalf of our customers in 83 municipalities, there is little funding coming from governmental entities.
That means that the plan must be paid for by the people who use our services. Everyone who gets a bill with an ALCOSAN charge must help rebuild and renew our system so that our rivers and streams no longer suffer from overflows of stormwater mixed with sewage when it rains or the snow melts.
It’s up to you – and me, since I am an ALCOSAN customer, too.
ALCOSAN has worked very hard to make sure that rates are reasonable and cause as little burden as possible to our customers. Our negotiations with the regulatory agencies, while still ongoing, have borne fruit in allowing us to adopt a new four-year rate structure that is far less than we originally estimated.
Starting in January, the average residential customer who uses 12,000 gallons of water per quarter and whose bill from ALCOSAN was $390 in 2017, will pay $419 in 2018. That is an increase of 7.5% which comes to $29.22 per year or $2.43 per month more. In 2019, 2020 and 2021, rates will increase 7% each year, with the cost to the average customer being $513 per year or $42.75 per month by 2021.
ALCOSAN’s rate is computed two ways, the per-gallon rate and the customer service charge. The current rate of $6.91 per 1,000 gallons of water used will rise to $7.42 per 1,000 gallons for 2018. The quarterly customer service charge, $14.51 in 2017, will be $15.60 in 2018. You can reduce your overall bill by reducing how much water you use.
ALCOSAN’s rates are only part of your bill. Our charges cover moving the wastewater from your municipality to our plant, and for treating the sewage at our plant. Another part of your bill covers the municipality’s cost of taking the wastewater from your home and moving it through the municipal pipes to ours. The municipalities are also under regulatory mandates and have to maintain and improve their sewers.
Last January, knowing that the costs of the Clean Water Plan would be increasing regularly, ALCOSAN developed the Clean Water Assistance Fund for low-income homeowners. This fund provides a $30 credit each quarter ($120 a year) to help low-income families and individuals reduce their wastewater treatment bills. Dollar Energy handles the applications through a number of social service agencies throughout the region. Details of the application process are available at https://www.dollarenergy.org/need-help/pennsylvania/alcosan/
I hope that all low-income homeowners in the ALCOSAN territory apply for our Clean Water Assistance Fund through Dollar Energy Fund, to receive the help they need in paying these new rates. But no matter your income, know that you are part of fixing our system and giving the Pittsburgh region the world-class clean rivers and streams that we all deserve.