Aqua Pennsylvania proposes rate increase: Here's what we're learning

A final decision won't be made until early 2025.

ByHeather Grubola and Nydia Han WPVI logo
Tuesday, June 4, 2024
Aqua Pennsylvania proposes rate increase: Here's what we're learning
Aqua Pennsylvania proposes rate increase: Here's what we're learning

LIMERICK, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A proposed rate hike by a major utility has consumers in Pennsylvania fed up. They say it's the second big increase in recent years.

The proposal impacts a lot of people as Aqua Pennsylvania serves 445,000 water customers and 57,000 wastewater customers.

Customers of Aqua Pennsylvania have received a notice in the mail that says the company wants to increase water rates next month by 24%.

But before you panic, the Troubleshooters have some news that could put your mind at ease -- at least for now.

Gail Wellington, of Limerick, Montgomery County, is talking about her water and sewage bill from Aqua Pennsylvania.

"Two years ago it went up more than double," said Wellington.

And it isn't her usage that's going up.

"It's the base rate that you have no control over," she said,

Aqua customers said their bills went up from about $35 to $70 two years ago. And now Wellington and other Aqua customers are getting notices about another proposed hike.

The letter states the typical water bill for residential customers would go from $78.21 to $97.01 per month. That's a 24% increase.

"While it doesn't seem like much, it's the cumulative effect along with everything else," said Wellington. "That means you can't stop and get a hobby."

Aqua Pennsylvania says it's filed a request with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to increase the rates as of July 22 of this year to cover "capital investments in system repairs and improvements."

"How can you keep going up like this all the time? We'll be among the highest in the nation after this goes on," said State Representative Joe Ciresi.

Aqua Pennsylvania said it must recover $953 million for necessary infrastructure investments.

"I like to see everything in writing. I like to see what your salaries are for your staff? How much you're making? I mean, this is a public utility," said Ciresi. "This is an unbelievable burden on our residents, and especially those on a fixed income like our seniors. So I'm proposing that we stop this rate increase."

Here's the good news: the PUC told the Troubleshooters the commission will immediately suspend the rate case, which will trigger a full investigation.

Public hearings will be held so consumers can weigh in on how it will affect them.

A final decision won't be made until early 2025.

"I'm going to organize as many people," said Wellington. "They have to hear our voice."

Representative Ciresi will hold a news conference about this on Friday, June 7, at 2 p.m. at 200 Village Way in Limerick. You can also fill out a PUC form to make your voice heard.

Aqua Full Statement

"At Aqua Pennsylvania, it's our mission to protect and provide Earth's most essential resource. We take this obligation seriously. For that mission to succeed, we must continue to modernize and upgrade our treatment plants, wells, pipelines and related infrastructure. This rate request we filed on May 23, 2024 reflects recovery of the $953 million in infrastructure investments from April 2023 through the end of 2025, and highlights Aqua's commitment to improving reliability and service for its customers across the Commonwealth. This includes the replacement of approximately 200 miles of aging water main, as well as associated valves and customer service lines throughout approximately 5,900 miles of distribution system. This request also reflects expenses necessary to operate the utility, including chemicals, power, fuel, equipment, and labor."

We've done this while improving public safety by replacing fire hydrants, proactively investing in infrastructure to aggressively respond to new regulations requiring treatment of source water to remove PFAS and the replacement of lead service lines, and keeping our infrastructure safe from cyber-security threats.

The base rate adjustment with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) will support recovering and offsetting the costs associated with this infrastructure modernization initiative. The PUC will review the request over the next nine months and grant all, some or none of the request. There will be no impact on customer bills until the PUC makes a final decision, which is expected in February 2025.

We know that rate increases are difficult for some of our customers and Aqua is committed to helping ease that burden. We find ways to help customers with their bills through payment arrangements and Customer Assistance Programs. Customers seeking financial assistance can call 877.987.2782 or visit Aqua Pennsylvania also seeks grants and low-interest loans to minimize the financial impact on our customers.

The process to modify base rates is transparent and involves multiple opportunities for public participation. For more information about the request customers can visit