Water Co. of Connecticut this week notified the Department of
Public Utility Control (DPUC) of its intent to request a $16.1
million, or 13.95 percent, increase in water service revenues.
The company will file an application with the DPUC on March
31. The DPUC is expected to announce its decision in
September. If it approves the increase, water rates for
Aquarion's customers in Fairfield, New Haven and Litchfield
counties will increase Oct. 1.
Aquarion provides water to 585,000 customers in 35
municipalities, including Stratford, Bridgeport, Fairfield,
Easton, Monroe, Trumbull, Shelton and Seymour.
Stratford State Rep. Lawrence Miller (R-122) said the request
comes at a tough time for consumers already hit hard by
increases in gasoline and heating fuel costs.
"It's a big increase," he said. "You don't like
to see it just when the economy is starting to get a little
"I have mixed emotions," Miller said of the
potential hike. "They get their product from God...but
then again, they have not had a rate increase in a long time
and I understand they need the funds to pay for infrastructure
improvements. I have not seen the numbers, but I'm sure they
will be gone over thoroughly.
"They've provided good service and the water quality is
very high," he said.
State Sen. George "Doc" Gunther, R-21, said he has
some lingering concerns about what Aquarion has done with
funds derived from the sale of large parcels of land around
reservoirs throughout the region. However, he said he has not
yet seen the details of the rate request.
"I'll have to see what the numbers are before I can
comment on whether it's justified," Gunther said.
The typical residential family of four currently pays about
$1.04 for an estimated 200 gallons of water it uses each day,
or $95.25 for 18,000 gallons of water used each quarter. If
the application is approved, that family will pay about $1.24
a day or $112.92 a quarter.
Charges to municipal fire departments for water to service
fire hydrants will increase by about 6 percent.
Charles V. Firlotte, Aquarion president and chief executive
officer, said the company needs the rate hike primarily for
its "water utility infrastructure such as pump stations,
regional pipeline, water mains, storage tanks and other
equipment...as well as the need to set aside reserves to
replace or upgrade future plant and equipment.
"We delayed asking for a rate increase as long as
possible," Firlotte said, "but since 1996 Aquarion
has spent $151.5 million for infrastructure improvements
through 2003 in its Connecticut area, of which $87.8 million
was invested in Eastern Fairfield, New Haven and Litchfield