The Erie County Water Authority (ECWA) has approved its 2021 budget, which invests heavily in critical system-wide infrastructure throughout ECWA’s service area.
The 2021 budget includes $55.2 Million for system-wide infrastructure upgrades, a 38% increase from the $40 Million spent on system infrastructure in 2020. Next year’s major infrastructure projects include:
· $37.7 Million for new water transmission and distribution mains throughout ECWA’s system
· $5.7 Million for upgrades at the Sturgeon Point and Van De Water Treatment Plants
· $6.7 Million for upgrades to major pump stations throughout ECWA’s service territory
· $1.7 Million for information technology upgrades, enhancements at the water quality laboratory, and general facility upgrades
· $2.4 Million for new remote radio read residential water meters
· $1 Million for service and line maintenance vehicles
This much needed investment in upgrading ECWA’s infrastructure is part of an overall 20-year, $1 Billion Strategic Infrastructure Investment Plan, including $317 Million that will be invested over the next five years through 2026.
Beginning January 1, small meter residential customers will pay a rate of $3.57 per 1,000 gallons, which equates to an additional $10.08 per year based on median customer consumption of 48,000 gallons annually. Water rate increases have averaged at or below the rate of inflation over the past 21 years, and ECWA is the second lowest for annual water bill cost among municipal water purveyors in Upstate and Central New York. The infrastructure investment charge will increase 1.30 cents per quarter or $5.20 for the year for small meter residential customers.
The 2021 rate increase, which equates to about $1 per month for the average residential customer, remains directly in line with our independent professional rate consultant’s projections and provides a continual revenue source for the most necessary and significant infrastructure investment program in ECWA history.
This significant investment in ECWA’s infrastructure will allow us to continue to improve system efficiencies, reliability, and create redundancies that will prevent a catastrophic system failure event from occurring in the future. But even with this unprecedented level of investment much more is needed to adequately address the critical needs of our expansive and complex water system. As a result, we will continue to work with our partners in state and federal government on providing funding assistance to help mitigate the impact on customer rates over the long term.
We understand that 2020 continues to be a very challenging year for many of our customers, and we remain hopeful and optimistic for the year ahead. ECWA looks forward to 2021 and implementing our infrastructure investment plan so that we can continue to provide you and your family safe, affordable drinking water you can trust and the reliable, dedicated service you have come to expect from ECWA.