There is a billing error on the water bills Montclair residents received July 7.

The township’s water utility introduced a new charge to quarterly water bills beginning this month — labeled “infrastructure charge” on customers’ water bills. The township mistakenly charged the infrastructure charge twice. Residents should pay the “Current Charges” amount, not the "Total Due" amount. The amounts shown on the online payment portal are correct, officials said.

The infrastructure charge will increase overall water costs by between $25 and $62.25 a quarter for most households.

The new charge has been put in place to address the township’s aging water infrastructure and to continue to maintain water purity standards to be in compliance with the New Jersey Water Quality Accountability Act of 2017, the township said in a notice to residents.

Water rates had not increased since 2017, but bills could rise by 73% to 187% for most residential consumers since the Township Council voted through the new rates unanimously in April.

Padmaja Rao, the township’s chief financial officer, said at the council meeting that Montclair is dealing with an aging water delivery system dating to the 1890s and early 1900s, and that at least 90 miles of water service lines need replacing. 

Residents with water service lines of 1 inch in diameter or smaller are charged $34 per quarter, according to township officials. This charge, which saw a $1 hike each year from 2015 to 2017, includes 7,480 gallons of water for the quarter. For each additional 748 gallons used, residents pay a rate of $3.74 during January, February, March, October, November and December. From April through September, the rate jumps to $4.49. 

The infrastructure charge is in addition to that.

  • • Lines that are 5/8 inch x 3/4 inch will see a $25 infrastructure charge.
  • • Lines that are 3/4 inch will see a $37.50 infrastructure charge.
  • • Lines that are 1 inch will see a $62.25 infrastructure charge.

Most single-family households have 5/8 inch x 3/4 inch water service lines, Township Manager Tim Stafford said. Water customers with lines in excess of 1 inch of diameter will see infrastructure charges that range from $124.50 for 1.5 inches to $4,967 for 10 inches.

Township officials said about the billing error: “We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”