Submitted by [deleted] t3_z629ap in Pennsylvania

An act passed about 10 years ago has made our financial lives very messy. This act essentially gave for-profit water and sewer companies a blank check to invade our lives and take our money.

In my area (Chester County), Aqua America is the poster child for this highway robbery. My water/sewer bill this week was $201. It's only my wife and me, and our water usage is low. But we pay the minimum fee approved by the PA PUC.

Be very careful if you hear that Aqua America is trying to take over your public / municipal water service. They're robber barons and they want your hard earned money too!



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IrresponsibleScience t1_ixz3ccz wrote

Utilities should never be privately owned. No matter what companies have never and will never be interested in doing what’s best for people, they will do what makes them the most money.


pa_bourbon t1_ixzy0r9 wrote

Except all of the privately owned utilities and investor owned utilities are regulated by the PA PUC, which sets a maximum allowable return on the invested capital (fancy way to say - max profit that can be earned).

The local govt owned utilities are all so woefully behind on maintenance and upkeep since the politicians never want to raise rates (both parties guilty here). So when they are forced to sell or raise rates dramatically, prices rise as the new owners make the required investments.


IrresponsibleScience t1_iy0ceft wrote

We’re stuck in a look of untrustworthy groups managing our infrastructure


pa_bourbon t1_iy0d1sf wrote

All non-government owned utilities are regulated by the Pennsylvania public utilities commission, which is an arm of the state government. That’s better oversight than most industries get on fees. Your local bank can charge whatever it wants for your checking account. The free market will determine whether they’re successful or not.

Your local utility does not have that same freedom. Every rate change is scrutinized in a public rate making process the plays out in Harrisburg. As a customer you have the right to attend the hearings if you choose. I realize most won’t ever go. But it’s available. Which is more than most industries have in terms of price oversight.


BureaucraticHotboi t1_iy11p87 wrote

It’s a cycle that only has one winner, the corporations. They invest in politicians who will pass favorable laws and will defer infrastructure improvements, which could be paid for by yknow, raising corporate taxes. Your points are correct, but to be clear this is all planned out by the corporations to manufacture a system that feeds them more and more profits by underinvestment in public resources and then having them handed over to be drained for private profit. Schools are next.


pa_bourbon t1_iy16n65 wrote

So here is how utility rates actually work - they only raise rates when their costs increase. The model favors capital investment in infrastructure because once they are in the “rate base” they earn on the asset until it is retired. This is a public process. It’s not a back room deal where they hand “more and more profits”. And those infrastructure assets aren’t public. They are owned by the corporations that build, maintain and operate them.

Government utilities are the ones that underinvest - the politicians don’t want to raise rates until it’s way too late and things are falling apart.

And the corporations don’t win anything. Their stockholders do. And lots of utility stocks are owned in retirement funds due to the stability.


randompittuser t1_iy1bq5l wrote

At the end of the day, there’s just not a reasonable case for privately owned utilities. You argue that the fee structure is a problem with Harrisburg. And that allocating money to improvement and maintenance was also a problem with Harrisburg. Sounds like a lot of problems with Harrisburg. Maybe we should fix Harrisburg to work for us before we hastily sell off the rights to manage our public utilities to companies that focus on profits rather than service.


pa_bourbon t1_iy1ghe9 wrote

Never said Harrisburg was the problem. My point was that Harrisburg provides oversight and it’s a public process. All states follow similar processes under guidance provided by the FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission).

It’s a public process following well defined rules. It’s not a bunch of execs in a smoke filled back room setting an agenda to screw the little guy.

Look at Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority for a prime example of the issues that arise from a government owned utility that refused to raise rates forever and the infrastructure is in terrible disrepair.

The real issue is that it takes hundreds of millions (billions for some bigger utilities) in investment to keep these systems running. Think about the damage that one big ice storm does to electric wires - in order to get that investment done, there has to be a way to get a return, since the investment horizon is so long.

People will argue that utilities are too critical to leave to the free market, so the bodies like the PA PUC were created to regulate it. Regulation does not mean zero profit. The capital gets paid either way - whether the utility is owned by the government or a public company. In a public company it’s dividends and stock appreciation. In a government utility the utility pays interest on its debt that it incurs to build and maintain the infrastructure.

During the pandemic, the PUC was very stingy with rate increases - some might say rightfully so. But the utilities still had maintenance to perform and improvements to make. Now they are back asking for increases as their costs have increased just like everyone else. Add that to rising commodity prices and you get a double whammy.

My electric commodity prices went up over 45% last year. It’s a straight pass through from my electric company - they don’t make any money on the electricity itself. It kind of is what it is. Costs are rising elsewhere. Look at the price of eggs? Where is the outcry about the egg conglomerates trying to artificially raise prices to screw us? Should the government take over all chicken farms too?


Atrocious_1 t1_iy108zy wrote

The Bethlehem Water Authority seems to work pretty well, being a public utility. There are four people in my household and my bill is a bit more than OP's. Per quarter.

As for the PUC, that's just a rubber stamp operation for whenever the utilities cry they don't make enough money. That's why your electric is so high now.


pa_bourbon t1_iy15f0o wrote

Please read what I wrote. The PUC caps the profit any given utility can make as part of the rate making process. Electric rates are high because most of our electricity is generated with natural gas. Natural gas prices, like all fossil fuel prices, have risen dramatically recently.

As I’ve stated elsewhere in this thread, utilities pass the commodity through at no markup according to state law. They make no money on the gas or the electricity itself - they pass it through at cost. Their income generating opportunity comes from fixed monthly fees and generation/transmission charges which are priced per quantity used.


dherrmann t1_ixz5e0h wrote

Ps. Aqua is not doing anything illegal. It’s Harrisburg that set the rules that Aqua is taking advantage of. Some of the blame also need to go to local townships, boroughs, and cities

This is what I just sent to my state senator and rep:

Dear Rep Howard,

I live in West Pikeland Twp, and we've experienced the impact of 2016 Act 12 first-hand. My water/sewer bill was over $200 and we use very little water (it's just my wife and me).

We need to do something about 2016 Act 12 - repeal it or put tighter controls over water utility companies, especially Aqua America. Aqua seems to have taken the lead in taking unintentended advantage of Act 12 and have been using it to use their monopoly powers to negatively impact the citizens of Pennsylvania.

Please help us! We can't afford this travesty!


discogeek t1_ixzctch wrote

You should send a similar letter to the Attorney General and PUC. They both have the ability to help with price gouging when it comes to utilities too.


BureaucraticHotboi t1_iy11bcu wrote

It’s okay to blame Aqua. They and other utilities almost definitely lobbied for the law to be passed that now allows them to drain profits from formerly public systems. It may not be illegal, but it’s immoral. The politicians and the corporations are in bed and equally culpable. Good on you for bringing attention to this!


i_wear_a_bison_hat t1_iy3fw8j wrote

What you want to take the power away from business and give it to the people/government/communities? What a communist! Jk, but this is a republican talking point xD sad truth. Not a Democrat either.


Thecrawsome t1_iy14xwm wrote

I'm sure there's history behind somebody at aqua, their lobbyists, etc who worked with Harrisburg to get this sweet deal. It's how it always happens


fuck_fate_love_hate t1_iy1lbah wrote

How many gallons are you being billed for?

My husband and I have aqua too and our sewer is $65/quarter and our water bill is like $30-60 a month.

That seems crazy high and you may want to have your bill re-visited or have a plumber check your home for leaks.

I agree though - aqua is a nightmare. My friends utilities are like $60/quarter total for water and sewer because it’s just through the township. I hate the privatization of utilities.


DestroyerOfIphone t1_iy1n9l6 wrote

Lol my AQA bill was 163.85 with a 2.25 convince feenthis month


fuck_fate_love_hate t1_iy1pmjl wrote

Yeah but it depends on how many gallons you’re using and how much they charge per gallon. My water bill has never been that high so just trying to understand if it’s a regional pricing difference or usage or what


DestroyerOfIphone t1_iy1t2dz wrote

I actually don't even know. AQA sends me a text and you reply yes aqa and it pays it. I'm need to figure out what my login is


dherrmann t1_iy5hoqm wrote

Not really. I could use zero water and still nave a bill over $120 ish.


fuck_fate_love_hate t1_iy5morw wrote

From AQUA?

I’d call and dispute that. We also have them, my bill last month was $20.30. The highest it’s ever been was around $85. We have a dishwasher, oversized bathtub, and a washing machine.

Is it that your washing machine is an old model? Or are your toilets running constantly? After we replaced our toilet flapper things our bill went down like $30 because they weren’t running constantly.


flaaaacid t1_iy8z3nf wrote

I think it really depends on where you live and what the water system was that Aqua bought. I have Aqua at my place in the mountains and it was previously a HOA-owned system that only serves that particular development. Has its own well and treatment plant. I imagine our rates are higher because of the scale of the system being rather small. For a house I might be at 2 weeks a month at most our bills are routinely $100+. It would be $65 just for the "customer charge" on the water and sewer even if I didn't use a drop.


AlVic40117560_ t1_iy1vpsc wrote

Go to their office and set up a meeting. It’ll be much more effective.


petesphillygarden t1_ixz30rw wrote

+PA American Water. Same deal, like yearly 30% increase requests.


artful_todger_502 t1_ixz2uzz wrote

"Minimum fee," translated is, "we are punishing you for trying to circumvent tithing to us"


pa_bourbon t1_ixzyhfp wrote

Alternative viewpoint - minimum fees for things like utilities are rising because as energy efficiency and conservation rises, commodity use is falling. The pipes, wires and other infrastructure still need to be built and maintained and utilities collect money one of two ways - flat monthly charges and usage fees based on metered consumption. As metered consumption falls, the fixed fees will rise.

Europe has had structures like this for years and their utilities are better maintained and funded as a result.

There is unfortunately no free ride here. We’ve under invested in our infrastructure for so long, it’s time to pay the bill.


melranaway t1_ixzzqyz wrote

We all know they don’t use the minimum fee to upgrade their infrastructure…. That’s what raising rates are for… sorry I have a pessimistic tone… we got nailed by penelac and their raising rates to help upgrade their infrastructure…


pa_bourbon t1_iy04kwc wrote

I work close to this industry. The minimum monthly charge and the commodity usage charges work together to provide the revenue for the utility. The rate of return is capped by the Pennsylvania public utilities commission. It’s a package deal.


Fantastic_Chemical67 t1_iy0aac0 wrote

Whats the compensation for the CEO of one of these private water utilities?


pa_bourbon t1_iy0c2cy wrote

It will vary by company. The larger the company, the higher the comp. Same as any other industry. I do know one utility CEO personally. This CEO’s compensation is 40% salary and 60% bonus and stock awards at the discretion of the board based on annual and multi year goals. These goals include not just financial measures, but measures of safe operations (employee injury counts) as well as reliability and customer service/satisfaction metrics.


sprcpr t1_iy0ly6b wrote

The boards are packed with friends of a you do me and I'll do you nature. So it's 2mil for a base pay and another 8mil for bullshit metrics that can he altered or ignored.


pa_bourbon t1_iy0msj6 wrote

The CEO I know made significantly less than the figures you quoted. One of the largest electric utilities in the country - Southern California Edison - their ceo made $3.16M in total comp in 2021. That CEO ran a $14.9B company that year. Doesn’t seem out of whack to me.

Only 629K of that 3.16M was base salary.


Fantastic_Chemical67 t1_iy24mam wrote

Imagine “only” making 600k a year by price gouging people that have no choice.

Fuck private utilities and their CEOs.


pa_bourbon t1_iy28cik wrote

This viewpoint intrigues me. What do you think a fair salary is for someone leading a $15 Billion company, in Southern California?

If you hate this comp package, don’t even look at bank CEO pay.

Reality check - senior execs get paid a lot to lead these companies.


Fantastic_Chemical67 t1_iy3d5yl wrote

I don’t think utilities should be billion dollar private companies.

Necessary services and infrastructure shouldn’t be price gouged by worthless MBAs pretending their adding “shareholder value”.

A fair salary is one where the CEO doesn’t exist.

Fuck private utilities.


pa_bourbon t1_iy3f73o wrote

Got it. So the government should take over a $15 Billion company and have no one run it day to day. I’m sure that will work out perfectly.


Fantastic_Chemical67 t1_iy3g1uf wrote

Cope and seethe.

People shouldn’t have to be price gouged for services necessary for living.

The cost to sustain your shithead CEO buddy’s total compensation is thousands of hardworking households water bill.

There isn’t a single public position that pays close to what he makes and there shouldn’t be.


pa_bourbon t1_iy3kbrq wrote

And then we wonder why government owned utilities are poorly run and underinvested in their infrastructure and need to be bought out to rescue them from the mismanagement.

Somehow we’ve come full circle here.


Fantastic_Chemical67 t1_iy3magv wrote

I don’t wonder why.

Literally it’s because of starve the beast policies enacted by Republicans looking to privatize utilities so people like your buddy can suck on the teat of hard working Americans.

Private utilities are worthless middle men that jack up prices for profit and people like your CEO buddy are leeches on society.


pa_bourbon t1_iy3og4a wrote

Explain pittsburgh water and sewer authority then. A city run by democrats and the utility is woefully underinvested. Not everything is politics.

Most of the poorest run and underinvested utilities are in big cities. Big cities trend blue…..


Fantastic_Chemical67 t1_iy4el29 wrote

Yeah that turns out so well for municipalities that decide to privatize their utilities.

Privatizing public services is almost always a complete disaster because there is no market competition for a utility.


pa_bourbon t1_iy4iobv wrote

Got it. You’re one of those people that prefers your bill to be cheap and to kick the can down the road to a future generation to pay for the problems that your generation neglects. This is what the baby boomer generation did to most of our government owned utilities by the way.

It’s a very short sighted strategy that government owned utilities use. Because by the time the bill comes due, today’s politicians will be gone from office.

But keep whining about greed, etc.

No matter how much you want it to be cheap and free, reliable utility service costs real money. Those costs are increasing like costs are everywhere else. For some reason we thought it was a good idea to close a bunch of nuclear power plants around the world, so electricity is only going to get more expensive.


Fantastic_Chemical67 t1_iy4wmo3 wrote

Yeah if only the altruistic millionaire CEO could save us from ourselves by raising rates astronomically and reaping millions in compensation.

Average CEO tenure is less than 5 years. Less time than most politicians stay in office btw.

Seriously get bent. Your ideology is gross.


gslavik t1_iy1kxbt wrote

Shouldn't the employees who follow safety guidelines get that bonus? Or even their managers who make sure safety guidelines are followed?


pa_bourbon t1_iy1leo4 wrote

Most utilities will have employee annual bonuses tied to similar safety metrics among others. A safety culture needs to be enforced at all levels of an organization, so that metric is usually in the bonus calc for all levels of employee.


PatientNice t1_ixzgquo wrote

Again, tell me how voting Republican has helped the people of PA? Didn’t we learn anything from Flint? End stage capitalism thinks markets always do better than government. Just stupid.


AbsentEmpire t1_ixzq8kt wrote

>End stage capitalism thinks markets always do better than government. Just stupid.

Minor distinction, but the belief that the free market is always more efficient and better than the government is just boilerplate neo-liberalism.

End stage capitalism is something else entirely.


PatientNice t1_ixzt0ud wrote

No, free market slobbering is trademark Republican economics.


AbsentEmpire t1_ixztsxz wrote

I don't think you know these words have actual definitions, and the Democrats have been pretty pro free market for decades as well.


PatientNice t1_ixzuki3 wrote

Not when it comes to healthcare, Social Security, Medicare, infrastructure, etc. Look it up.


AbsentEmpire t1_ixzvkka wrote

Bill Clinton wanted to gut social security and only got held up from doing so by the scandal.

Democrats are very frequently in lock step with Republicans when it comes to "entitlement reform", deregulation, and public private partnerships.

None of which changes the fact that neo-liberalism and end stage capitalism are two separate terms with actual definitions of which you used incorrectly.

Your original comment is talking about neo-liberalism, not end stage capitalism, those are two different things.


fusionfarm t1_ixzv04d wrote

The government, regardless of republican or democrat controls the market, that's no where near capitalism.


Confident_End_3848 t1_ixz0jpz wrote

Oh boy, Aqua just bought our local gas company.


dherrmann t1_ixz5j9i wrote

I'd start budgeting for a 100% increase by next year at this time. Aqua is like a robber baron, 2022 style.


Confident_End_3848 t1_ixz6p8e wrote

The only saving grace might be that the PUC regulates gas and electric utilities. The PUC generally has to approve their rate increases. Water companies don’t have that kind of oversight.


Tahns t1_ixzc96x wrote

That is false. Private water and sewer companies are indeed regulated by the PUC. Source: am environmental engineer who deals with this stuff.


ClevelandNaps t1_ixzcs81 wrote

I was going to reply the same- private utilities are regulated by PUC, including water and sewer utilities.


Confident_End_3848 t1_ixzdofq wrote

Ok, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the news report on anything besides rate increases requests for electricity and gas utilities.


AbsentEmpire t1_ixzm91y wrote

Water rate increases get covered by the news as well.


MomsSpecialFriend t1_ixzi0m4 wrote

Okay so they will just raise it 50% per year like UGI, PPL and all of my utilities.


pa_bourbon t1_ixzx5sb wrote

There are two components of a gas or electric bill. One portion is the commodity itself - by PA law the utility makes no money on the commodity - it’s a pass thru. Natural gas prices have surged due to a number of factors including the war in Ukraine. Since quite a bit of our electricity is also generated by natural gas, the gas cost increases impact electricity too. There is a quarterly adjustment to the price that the PUC approves to make sure the utility is making no money on the commodity.

The remainder of the bill is a flat fee (approved by the PUC), as well as transmission and distribution charges (also approved by the PUC). Utilities have massive investments in the pipes, wires and other infrastructure that delivers the commodities to your homes. That infrastructure costs money to build and maintain. The providers of the capital to build that infrastructure are guaranteed a rate of return in order to invest due to the long payback period on the investment (20-30 years in some cases). That rate of return is set by the PUC and managed through a public rate making process - you can literally attend the hearings in Harrisburg if you wish.

Utilities rarely get everything they ask for in a rate case and often settle for less - resulting in less than optimal maintenance of this vital infrastructure.

Unfortunately we are paying for years of under investing. No one is getting rich on this - in fact quite a bit of utility stock is held in retirement funds by unions and other group investors due to its stable steady return.

Source - I work close to this industry.


dherrmann t1_iy0hwfk wrote

I’ve read the PUC minutes. They approved Aua’s drastic increases so Aqua would take on a “troubled” local water authority Old boys club.


dherrmann t1_iy0hlqu wrote

Sure they do. The PUC happily passed Aqua America water and sewer rate increases


Tahlwyn t1_ixzeuu1 wrote

All of our utilities are being gradually bought up by private companies. All of NJs water is privately owned and it's spreading westward through PA right now.


[deleted] OP t1_iy023g9 wrote



jlomba1 t1_iy11xr0 wrote

And there’s also the contingent that says “Government owning utilities is Socialism! It’s Communism!”


BureaucraticHotboi t1_iy11x9g wrote

Organize and fight it. The residents of bucks and Montgomery just successfully fought an acquisition


Bucks_Deleware t1_ixzvpq7 wrote

No all of NJ water is not privately owned. Don't spread lies.


AbsentEmpire t1_ixzg3ib wrote

Townships sell off their municipal utilities usually because they need expensive maintenance, or the township needs money for maintenance on something else, typically roads, or unfunded liabilities coming due.

Residents will fight against any small fractional increase in taxes or rates to pay for this maintenance, which usually has been deferred for years and can no longer be ignored; because the concept that things cost money to fix and maintain, even for the government, is a concept your average person just can't handle.

Pressed between a rock and a hard spot for money, townships do the only thing they can besides raise rates/taxes, which is sell off assets.

Residents ultimately end up paying more over time for this because companies like Aqua have a profit motive and will charge the real cost of the system, plus an additional amount to make a profit.

The cost difference for residents between municipal utilities and private ones can be extreme.

Philadelphia bills by the month and combined water and sewer costs for an average household using 500 cubic feet of water are $74, and that's with two rate hikes over the last two years. It would be even cheaper if there weren't so many people in Philly who didn't pay thier bills.

Chester Water Authority is even cheaper, they bill by quarter and thier typical bill is just under $100 which averages out to $33 a month.

Privatized utilities can easily be double the costs of municipal systems, this a well known and observed situation.


Xanathar2 t1_ixztlm1 wrote

And the way it is structured is the township that started the authority gets the money, even if the authority now has assets in, or is servicing other townships. They should at least change that law so any funds received are split among the serviced area.


AbsentEmpire t1_ixzux6b wrote

Yep this is the fight that's occurring with Chester City trying to claim ownership of Chester Water Authority, despite its board being made up of repressives from Delco and Chester counties, which is where the majority of the CWA customers are.

Hopefully the CWA prevails in its fight and remains a municipal water system. It's one of the oldest and best run water authorities in the Northeast.


dherrmann t1_ixzqjtd wrote

That wasn't a factor here. It certainly is in other places, but not here.

This area was always serviced by Philadelphia Suburban Water Company, but they became Aqua and the rout was on.


BureaucraticHotboi t1_iy125he wrote

It’s almost like localized utilities might need large federal investments to keep them up. Tennessee Valley Authority is a great example of a still quite successful large public utility…it just needs to be large enough and invested in periodically


Wi1dtortilla t1_ixzh5wo wrote

This is an interesting problem. I don’t like the idea of a private entity buying up local water systems, BUT many of the systems Aqua buys are not operating sustainability. By that I mean they are under billing and/or mismanaging their water system. Aqua has the personal and capability to correct these failing water systems, unfortunately that means higher bills.

Water systems, especially those in small communities, are in trouble. Their customers complain when rates raise, so authority-run systems are hesitant to raise rates and instead run the system at a loss or run the system without keeping up with critical maintenance. It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.

As much as it pains me I tend to side with Aqua-type take overs because that means more reliable safe drinking water for the community. Pumping, treating, and distributing drinking water is a significant undertaking.

Edit: I am a licensed geologist who spent many years working with drinking water in Pennsylvania. Gettin’ downvoted for simply stating the facts that lead to private water companies taking over problematic small water systems.


Thehardwayalltheway t1_ixzr2ix wrote

I work for a municipal authority and your analysis is 100% correct. Elected officials don't want tovrsise prices because of politics. Water and sewer plants will run on minimal budgets but a lot of things will be "deferred" because it's not in the budget. And then something major goes wrong and the municipality is forced to raise rates substantially or sell. And hint, selling is a more politically palatable move than raising rates--at first. But people will end up paying higher rates because the private company is going to set rates to make the exact same repairs and make a profit.


gslavik t1_iy15c7w wrote

Sounds like proper government is the better solution.


AbsentEmpire t1_ixzug4u wrote

Yep this is the problem entirely. Residents fight paying for the actual costs to maintain and run municipal services for decades, because they don't understand the concept of long-term maintenance and liability costs.

The system gets neglected to the point of failure, and local leaders being unable to raise the now massive amount of money to fix all the deferred maintenance, sell it off to private companies who have zero qualms with increasing people's bills to pay for the services and cover the cost of all that back due maintenance.


gslavik t1_iy14gv4 wrote

> Aqua has the personal and capability to correct these failing water systems, unfortunately that means higher bills.

Or simply a profit motive. Ultimately, it is hard to trust a non-transparent monopoly to provide a service for cost + a little extra for future maint/upgrades.


CurrySoSpicy t1_iy14r3n wrote

This is the case for The City York WWTP that just got bought out by PA American. I used to do automation and control work there. The city absolutely neglected the hell out of the plant and wouldn’t fix anything. They were up against a wall with DEP and EPA. So they sold out. Now PA American has to dump millions of dollars into the place to bring it up to speed.


IamSauerKraut t1_ixz3ieg wrote

200 per week or 200 for this quarter?


dherrmann t1_ixz5q0i wrote

$200 per month. My neighbor with 2 kids was charged > $300.

I've done all I can to conserve, but Aqua has minimum charges, so I could use absolutely NO water and still owe about $200 per month .


EmergencySundae t1_ixzb8h4 wrote

That is ridiculous. I pay $75-96 per month (it bounces due to rounding) for my family of 4.

Aqua tried to buy the water authority here in Bucks, and I think the deal has been killed.


dherrmann t1_ixzfc06 wrote

Keep fighting to protect your local water authority


meara t1_ixzjol8 wrote

I’m in Bucks too and pay $226/quarter for water and sewer for a family of six. I’m so glad the Aqua deal was squashed.


Final_Candidate_7603 t1_iy0f4mb wrote

Fortunately, negotiations over the sale came to a swift halt in September when the Bucks County Board of Commissioners stepped in and said they would oppose the sale if the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority ended up approving it. This is a great example of the importance of voting. In. Every. Single. Election.

Less than 2 months into what was scheduled to be one year of negotiations, the BOC wasted no time in announcing that since the deal would not be in the best interests of the citizens, they would not approve it. Knowing that any deal would go nowhere without the Board’s support, BCWSA ended negotiations with Aqua America the next day. The supposed advantages were $1.1 Billion in the county’s coffers, and a mere average increase of $20/month per household through 2033 to fund the much-needed maintenance and upgrades to an aging infrastructure. But, as one of the Commissioners pointed out, Aqua America customers in PA have already seen an average increase of $88 per month because our lovely PA PUC keeps approving the rate increases. When negotiations were announced, the outcry from the public and from municipalities was strong and immediate. Apparently, these folks do listen to their constituencies.

The Presidential and the mid-term elections get so much fuss and attention (and $$$). They are held in even-numbered years; local and municipal elections are almost always held in the odd-numbered. We elected the Board of Commissioners in November of 2019 to 4-year terms. The process for these positions is a lil’ different, in that we always get to vote for two candidates. So next May, we will vote for 2 from the Party we are registered with, then the 2 Democrats who got the most votes will face the 2 Republicans who got the most. In November, we’ll again get to vote for 2 out of the those 4. Currently, the Board is made up of 2 Democrats and 1 Republican. I might not have mentioned- all three Commissioners made public statements opposing the sale to Aqua America.

The odd-numbered-year elections are for offices which determine much of our daily living. The PA Supreme Court makes rules on the laws we have to follow; we also elect local Judges and Magistrates. At the County level, we vote for the District Attorney, the Sheriff, and Controller (who is like the County’s CFO), to name a few. On the hyper-local level, we get to choose School Board members, and in some municipalities, School Superintendent. Right here on the State, County, and City subreddits, we’ve seen how controversy and shenanigans are affecting how our children are being educated. If you think that since you don’t have any kids in K-12 right now that none of this affects you- think again. In the not-too-distant future, these “kids” will be your pharmacist, your electrician, your local police officer, the PENNDOT worker laying the foundation for the road you take to get to work.

Vote. In. Every. Single. Election.

If something bad is happening to the residents of Pennsylvania, hop onto this sub and let the rest of us know, like this OP did. And btw OP, I’m really sorry that this sale happened in your community. Greed is everywhere, and corporations don’t think twice about majorly screwing people over in pursuit of an extra dollar. Not even when it comes to something that’s so fundamentally necessary- like having clean drinking water and a way to flush away your poo. I took a quick look at the PUC’s web site. Before filing a complaint with them, you have to file a complaint with the utility. Since at this point, it seems like that’s your only recourse, maybe you want to give that a shot. In the morning, I’ll do some looking and see if it’s possible to file a complaint that doesn’t directly affect you. If you can, I sure am willing to file a complaint on your behalf, and that of your community. Maybe someone else reading this is willing to too. Thanks for bringing it to everyone’s attention, and best of luck with your complaint!


Confident_End_3848 t1_ixz865i wrote

That’s $600 per quarter. That’s high. I pay about $225 a quarter in western pa.


IamSauerKraut t1_ixz9dih wrote

Although 600/quarter may not fit the legal definition of price gouging, it sure seems that way.


IamSauerKraut t1_ixz99th wrote

I remember reading a story a bunch of years ago about a city guy who got so fed up with having to pay a water bill that he drilled a well in his back yard. The water authority took him to court, lost, but was still able to bill him for sewer based on some water use formula. He was not allowed to put in a sand mound.


Mor_Tearach t1_iy0jsf3 wrote

So this statement gets me yelled at on a regular basis- like I just said THE most outrageous, nonsensical, ludicrous thing ever spoken.

I don't think there should be any such thing as a water bill. Like to add we have a well. It's possible to object to any aspect of society that sucks without having a personal interest. So hear me out please.

It's infrastructure. Infrastructure exist to support societies and are paid for through various taxes. Water is a fundamental, human need. We die without water. After that is hygiene. In the past death tolls were enormous when sewage ran in the gutters- unspeakable disease was the result hence municipal water systems developed and a level of hygiene commensurate with need was enforced.

There's more but you get the idea. It's not a matter of ' free ' ( and in fact the idea of ' free ' when it comes to basic human needs should be abolished ) no water, food or housing , no society. Without allowing of these basics the whole thing crumbles.

I'm not sure why that's such a crazy concept, water as a basic human right not a monetized commodity held hostage by corporations.


internetcommunist t1_ixziak7 wrote

Fuck privately owned utilities. Services like water, electric, gas, etc should ALWAYS be owned by the public


LakotaTbirds1970 t1_ixzr60s wrote

They recently tried to take over the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority also. Doylestown Borough got involved, and got them out. Aqua is nothing but a greedy MFing scalping rapacious company which improves nothing and whose only goal is to line its own pockets.

My wife and I drove by one of their facilities on the turnpike yesterday and I flipped them the bird. Not that it probably mattered, because the execs take 10 months of a year off and swim naked in a dry pool filled with hundred dollar bills.


klairby t1_ixz2v3m wrote

That’s a weekly bill? That’s ridiculous! I pay less than that quarterly.


jangofett75 t1_ixzmvos wrote

Aqua is here in Texas too. Water bill is usually 150 and it smells like chlorine


PaulysDad t1_ixzilbj wrote

What’s your usage?


dherrmann t1_ixzqagg wrote

I'll look it up - we are charged a minimum usage fee for water and sewer. Most of the bill (90%) is that minimum usage fee


whitemage82 t1_iy06wgf wrote

Meanwhile their CEO makes 3.6m a year, with their lowest executive employee making 200k+. On water.

We shouldn’t be paying utility exec’s whose only motivation is more money in their personal pockets every year.


dherrmann t1_iy078qc wrote

They are a publicly traded company, so maximizing profits is pretty much their reason for being


thisoldbroad t1_iy0rjh6 wrote

Lehigh County Authority is no better.


Squidward_Glaring t1_iy1p7wt wrote

Aqua is trying to forcibly take over our water utility in Delco because of an old deal the former county council (who were all voted out of office because of this) agreed to


dherrmann t1_iy1pg08 wrote

Wow. Be sure to let your neighbors know the potential financial impact


Dark_Prism t1_iy1poli wrote

Apparently Lancaster is an outlier here. I pay ~$100 every three months...


TheRealRockyRococo t1_iy26sx4 wrote

A friend of mine used to be the mayor of a pretty big montco town with its own water company, Aqua wanted to buy it. The town council wanted to do it, he said I'll veto it. They didn't have the votes to override his veto so they never sent it to him.


sepam t1_ixzml9b wrote

Can someone ELI5 the situation? I don’t understand the law nor how it impacts customers.

I’m in Chester County (eastern side) and pay Aqua between $100 and $130 every month for a family of 4. Should I expect an increase?


devilspeaksintongues t1_ixzxwpx wrote

Kind of unrelated, but on the topic of water.. I'm frustrated that York water barely passes as being fit for drinking, its disgusting so much so that I have to go buy purified water at target, I have no idea where they have water filling stations that arent home depot plastic water containers.


AbsentEmpire t1_iy04902 wrote

Sounds like a system that's ripe for being sold off soon.

Perhaps look into a whole house water filtration system in the meantime.


CurrySoSpicy t1_iy14zom wrote

That’s not York water, thats the City of York. Two separate systems.


dherrmann t1_iy18tjs wrote

Agree 💯. Just illustrating that the privatization movement is expanding


CurrySoSpicy t1_iy19o9d wrote

Gotcha. Fun fact: York Water is oldest publicly traded water company in the US. It was founded in 1816.

But our rates will go up, The City of York WWTP who was bought out by PA American was extremely neglected by the city. PA American is going to have to dump tens of millions into the place to get it running correctly again. This WWTP is also considered a regional plant, as in it takes flow from several municipalities.

I don’t personally live within the confines of the city but I live in an abutting township who sells a portion of our flow to the city. So we will see the trickle down effects of these major repairs. That being said, these privatized companies can be great and also a curse. Something eventually would have had to happen at York. They were threatened several times via the EPA and DEP. I worked for the city at the WWTP as an automation and controls contractor for about 13 years. So I’ve seen the neglect and attitudes first hand. Either way, be it by private or public hand, the people get screwed.


CurrySoSpicy t1_iy15fjn wrote

Where in York are you located? York Water has some of the best water quality in the nation. I personally serviced the machines and measurement instrumentation that insures the water quality is top quality.


devilspeaksintongues t1_iy17qs8 wrote

East. The water is nasty! I cant drink it. I've lived in many large cities around the world, and this water is amongst the worst I've had.


CurrySoSpicy t1_iy17zow wrote

Hmm, I’m not there with you on the quality. I live in East York as well. What is bad quality about it? I can assure it’s safe to drink, I’ve been drinking it for 30 years and I can tell you the York Water staff is absolutely passionate about making the drinking water safe and good quality. You can read their 2021 drinking water report, it’s on their homepage.


LittleLight85 t1_iy03kwl wrote

>Be very careful if you hear that Aqua America is trying to take over your public / municipal water service.

In what sense can one be careful? We can’t choose the water provider like we can with electric and gas, right?


OutrageForSale t1_iy0f92y wrote

It’s your local government that will have to make the sale from a public municipality to the private company like Aqua.

You can be active locally. Go to monthly board meetings and spread the word in community Facebook groups… especially if you see the topic on the city council monthly meeting agenda.


heili t1_iy0pd7o wrote

What is "very little" in gallons? What's the minimum usage and the billing period?


steveknicks t1_iy166sw wrote

I'm not sure if it's you or Aqua. I live in a five-member Chester County (Exton) household, with teenage daughters who take showers that last years; my water bill runs between $80 and $100 a month. I would check your lines and toilets for leaks.


dherrmann t1_iy18pse wrote

It’s everybody in our part of the township. Difference is that we pay fore for the sewer than for the water


KFCConspiracy t1_iy1d6cu wrote

How much water did you actually use?


commanderfish t1_iy1utjt wrote

I used 3,000 gallons last month for a family of four. What is your usage? My bill was $64 and that is will $20 a month line insurance


dherrmann t1_iy1v621 wrote

The problem here is that they charge coming in and going out (wastewater). The wastewater bill is about 1.7 times more than true charge for water


commanderfish t1_iy1vzeo wrote

Post your actual usage from your bill


dherrmann t1_iy1yeez wrote

I will but I’ll need to get it online. I was so mad at the bill that I shredded it.

Some of my neighbors saw their bill go from $75 to $300. It’s 65% charges for wastewater


transneptuneobj t1_iy2awxy wrote

Water isn't free and we allow our state to be over developed, it causes many issues.