The Suffolk County Water Authority board voted 5-0 Tuesday to increase water rates by 6.6 percent for most customers April 1 and create a two-tier rate system for customers who use more than twice the average amount of water in any quarter.
For the average homeowner who uses 160,000 gallons, the new rates will boost annual water bills by $27.12 — from $409 a year to $436.12. The proposed rate hike is higher than those of recent years, which ranged from 3.75 percent to 4.2 percent in the last three years.
The two-tier rate plan, meant to boost conservation, could affect as many as 70,000 customers — about 25 percent of SCWA's 385,000 customers — who use more than 78,540 gallons in any quarter. The authority will charge a 20 percent premium for usage over the limit.
Authority officials said the conservation rate will bring in about $3.6 million a year. They said they could not estimate the potential impact on individual users because they may reduce consumption.
In 2015, for instance, billionaire David Koch’s four-acre estate in Southampton was the authority’s water top user at 20.7 million gallons.
The rate increases will help fund authority’s proposed $138 million 2019-2020 operating budget, which is up $5 million or 3.7 percent from this year, and the $80 million capital budget, which is down by $4 million compared with this year.