The Erie County Water Authority (ECWA) today approved its 2020 budget, which increases its commodity water rate seven cents per 1,000 gallons and adds .39 cents to the quarterly Infrastructure Investment Charge for ECWA’s more than 166,000 small meter customers.
Beginning January 1, customers will pay a rate of $3.36 per 1,000 gallons, which equates to an additional $4.90 per year for the average customer using 70,000 gallons annually. Water rate increases have averaged at or below the rate of inflation over the past 21 years, and ECWA’s cost per 1,000 gallons is the second lowest among municipal water purveyors in Western New York. The Infrastructure Investment charge will increase .39 cents per quarter or $1.56 for the year for small meter customers.
“This is a very fiscally sound budget with a minor rate increase that remains directly in line with our financial model and our professional rate consultant’s projections,” said ECWA Chairman Jerome Schad. “Our rate structure fairly and equitably distributes fixed operational and infrastructure costs among ECWA’s customer classifications and provides a continual revenue source for the most significant infrastructure investment program in ECWA history.”
The 2020 budget includes $50.2 million for system-wide infrastructure upgrades, a 21% increase from the $41.5 spent on system infrastructure in 2019. Next year’s major projects include:
- $29.9 million for new water transmission and distribution mains throughout ECWA’s system
- $7.2 million to replace the North Ball Storage Tank in Amherst, which supplies ECWA’s northern and eastern service territory
- $2.3 million for new remote radio read residential water meters
- $1.7 million for upgrades at Sturgeon Point and Van De Water Treatment Plants
- $750,000 in new technology and testing instrumentation for the water quality laboratory
These upgrades are part of an overall $236 million five-year infrastructure investment plan, which ECWA is on track to achieve.
“This historic investment in ECWA’s infrastructure will allow us to continue to improve system efficiencies and reliability and provide a product that is safe and of the highest quality, all of which benefit our ratepayers who ultimately own and use the system,” continued Schad. “But even with this immense level of investment in our infrastructure, much more is needed to keep our system ahead of the industry curve, and we will be working with our partners in state and federal government on providing funding assistance to help mitigate the impact on our rates over the long term.”
The ECWA’s 2020 budget takes effect January 1st.