Water Industry News

Aquarion water rates for Greenwich and Darien CT will drop

By Martin B. Cassidy
Staff Writer

October 28, 2004

Water rates for residents of Greenwich and Darien will drop, while bills for other Fairfield County residents stay the same following the rejection of a rate increase requested by Aquarion Water Co.

In a decision issued yesterday afternoon, the Department of Public Utility Control ordered Bridgeport-based Aquarion Water Co. to cut rates for the Greenwich division, which also serves Darien.

Greenwich customers will see a 2.87 percent rate cut, meaning a family that uses about 18,000 gallons of water per quarter -- Greenwich's average -- will pay $96.65, instead of $99.50.

Rates for the other divisions, including the Stamford-New Canaan division of the company will remain the same, as will prices for customers in New Haven, Hartford and Litchfield counties, said Aquarion spokeswoman Adrienne Vaughan.

The utility applied to the DPUC for a rate increase in late March.

Aquarion sought to increase revenues to offset $200 million spent since 1996 on statewide infrastructure improvements, including work on dams, water mains, storage tanks, pump stations and treatment plants, Vaughan said.

From 2000 to 2003, the company spent $9.6 million in Greenwich and Darien on water main replacements and other projects, and hundreds of thousands on other projects such as a $500,000 project to add more hydrant connections in more isolated areas, Vaughan said.

"We're exceptionally disappointed because we've spent a tremendous amount of money to ensure we are delivering high quality water and good service to our customers," Vaughan said. "We're still working with the decision and trying to come up with a plan to do more with less."

The company also wanted to enact a uniform rate structure for its entire service territory, which includes 36 towns and 587,000 people around the state. But the DPUC found that Aquarion instead should get a revenue decrease citing incomplete construction projects and adjustments for weather and the number of customers the company serves. Aquarion reported slightly more than $110 million in revenue from April 1, 2003 to March 31, 2004, in Connecticut. The decision is expected to take effect in the first week of November, Vaughan said.

--The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2004, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.