Sewer rates rise, water fees remain flat
By Jaimie Julia Winters
Residents who recently received their sewer bills for 2019 and may have noticed an increase in rates. While sewer rates went up by about 16.5 percent this year for the average Montclair household, water rates did not.
Your sewer bill reflects two charges: capacity and treatment. The capacity charge, which is a set rate based on meter size, increased $50 for most homeowners in 2019, the same amount it increased last year. Treatment rates increased by more than a $1 this year, from $11.65 to $12.83. In 2017 those rates were $10.98. In 2016, the rate was $9.53.
The treatment amount, noted on the bill in units, will vary based on household usage. The average household requires 20 to 25 units of treatment service a year. Twenty units of treatment equates to about $256. Last year that same homeowner paid $233.
While the treatment rate is set by Passaic Valley, which does Montclair’s sewage treatment, capacity funds are taken in by the township for maintenance, upgrades and repairs of the sewer system.
In 2019, residents will see an increase of $50 up to $236 for a 5/8-by-3/4-inch meter, $322 with a $75 increase for a 3/4-inch meter size and $592 with an increase of $125 for a 1-inch meter size.
For 2018, those charges were $186.74, an increase of $50; $280.08, an increase of $74.99; and $467.17, an increase in $125.09, respectively.
Most Montclair homes have a 5/8-by-3/4-sized meter, said Montclair Communications Director Katya Wowk.
Homes with a 5/8-by-3/4-inch meter were billed an annual capacity charge of $136.74 in 2017. The 3/4-inch meter size fee was $205.09 and the 1-inch was $342.08.
Last year the average sewer bill was about $425. This year it should be about $495.
The bills are split in two payments, due June 30 and Dec. 1.
The 2019 budget for water and sewer capital projects are $2,650,000 for water and $835,000 for sewer.
Water rates have not increased over the last two years.
Most residents pay $34 per period, paid four times a year. This rate, which saw a $1 hike each year from 2015 to 2017, includes 7,480 gallons of water. For each additional 748 gallons used, the 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. Over the last three years that rate averaged an annual increase of about 11 cents during non-peak times and 31 cents during peak season on 748 gallons of water, but saw no increase in 2018.
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The average person uses 80 gallons of water a day, the average family of four 320 gallons. But that number could go up as much as two to four times higher in the hot summer months because of lawn irrigation, pools, fountains and more showers, according to the U.S. Department of Interior. Depending on water conservation, families could get by with the 7,480 gallons of water a quarter that Montclair bills at $34.
The town purchases about 5.7 million gallons a day from North Jersey District Water Supply Commission, according to Wowk. The town pays the utility – $1,746,876 a year – and then bills the residents based on usage.
Toilet flushing uses the most water each day.
Seniors can also apply for a 25 percent discount through the water department.