There may not have been a big turnout at a public hearing at Howell Town Hall on Wednesday, but the news from New Jersey American Water (NJAW) was good for at least one day for many township residents.
The purpose of the hearing was to allow residents to respond to a change in the utility's Purchased Water Adjustment Clause and Purchased Water (Sewerage) Treatment Adjustment Clause.
In a prepared statement by Bob Brabston, an attorney for NJAW, the proposals are "simply a pass-through of costs that NJAWC incurs in purchasing water and wastewater treatment service," from different companies and entities. He added the company "does not collect any profit or upcharge on costs it proposes to recover through this petition."
Richard Barnes, External Affiars Manager for NJAW said in the Howell area that includes the New Jersey Water Supply Authority which, according to its website includes the Manasquan Reservoir.
With the petition Brabston said NJAW would increase its revenues by just over $1.5 million, which would be used for the pass-throughs. In his statement he said that the proposed decrease for wastewater service in the Adelphia section of town using 48 thousand gallons of water would be 38 cents per month.
Christine Juarez, an attorney with the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel also made an appearance at the hearing and presented a prepared statement as well. She said her office was "conducting a comprehensive examination of new Jersey American's proposal to verify the reasons for the increase in charges and to determine whether the Company's calculations are accurate."
The water company will be holding a second hearing at Town Hall at 2 p.m. on Oct. 3 to implement what it calls a Distribution System Improvement Charge. Barnes said the new fee would be to help the company update its aging infrastructure. "It's a small fee on the customer's bills to allow us to repair infrastructure rather than the process we had before," he said.
Barnes said much of NJAW's infrastructure dates back to before World War II and will need to be replaced in the next five to 10 years. "It's always better to begin replacing infrastructure before it breaks," he said.
He said the company is responsible for ensuring their close to 8900 miles of pipe throughout the state are operating efficiently. "At the rate that we're replacing infrastructure it would take us hundreds of years based on our current funding mechanisms to replace our infrastructure," he said. "We're looking for creative ways to replace our infrastructure."
The proposed changes are included in the PDF's attached to this story.