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  • SWIM

City’s Upcoming Water Rate Study

Updated: Mar 9, 2021

We’ve been blogging about the City’s water rate study for quite some time now and calling on the NYC DEP for many years to conduct a study that would explore how the City can restructure our existing sewer charge to equitably account for a property’s stormwater runoff and its impact on the City's sewer system. Cities across the U.S. have already made this change so that they can better manage stormwater runoff and the cascading impacts it has on vital infrastructure systems.

Throughout our campaign we have focused on the vital need for DEP to engage a broad array of stakeholders in the study from the very beginning (scroll down to see these recommendations). There will also need to be incentive programs to help property owners whose sites generate a lot of stormwater runoff to install onsite stormwater management systems. The city has several tools to incentivize the installation of Green Infrastructure solutions for on-site stormwater management. You can read about the various programs here.

NYC DEP will embark on the rate study in early 2021, which they have stated is to:

"conduct analysis of appropriate Water and Wastewater rate structure options, customer assistance and credit programs, and recommendations and implementation options for DEP to achieve a more predictable, equitable, and sustainable revenue stream, in light of several factors that place increasing pressures on DEP’s rate base. These factors include but are not limited to the following: decreasing consumption levels; increasing utility fixed costs independent of customer use; drinking water, wet weather, and related water quality investments; state of good repair; population growth; and enhanced level of service."

To support our calls for the study and robust public engagement, SWIM has developed a set of recommendations that we recently shared with our coalition members and partners, the NYC DEP team that will oversee the study, we have also shared them with the NYC Water Board that oversees the City’s water rate setting each year:

SWIM's key recommendation for the study is that DEP form and convene a Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) composed of key community stakeholders from every Borough such as:

  • affordable housing advocates,

  • anti-poverty organizations,

  • academics,

  • scientists,

  • environmentalists,

  • financial analysts,

  • policy experts

We also recommend that the City engage and include on the CAC, advisors from some of the other 1,600 municipalities in the U.S. who have made rate structure changes to separate their stormwater charges from their sewerage charge. This is vital to the success and validity of this study.

SWIM Coalition members NRDC and Riverkeeper have developed a rate restructuring modeling tool and published a report on the modeling to demonstrate the types of restructuring scenarios that would yield an equitable restructuring of NYC’s existing sewer/wastewater charges in NYC.

We'll be monitoring the status of the study and keeping the public informed about the City's plans for engaging stakeholders. Be sure to sign up for our quarterly e-blast to stay up to date on this important topic.

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