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August 1, 2023

Residents of co-ops and condos in New York City continue to take hits. Gas and electricity costs have recently increased by 8.4% and 9.1%, while their property taxes have recently increased by an average of 8%. Many boards are debating how to pay for renovations that will reduce their buildings’ carbon emissions significantly enough to avoid paying hefty fines under the impending Local Law 97. Inflation is pushing up the cost of other items including staff wages, loan rates, and legally required facade repairs, while the market has kept insurance premiums high.

Using the subway is also becoming more expensive.

Residents of cooperatives and condos can now add water to their list of escalating expenses.

The New York Water Board has published the Water and Wastewater Rate Schedule for 2023–2024, which includes a 4.42% increase in the price of water. The schedule was released following public hearings on rates suggested by the Department of Environment Protection (DEP). As a result, New Yorkers now pay $4.49 (up from $4.30) for every 100 cubic feet (748 gallons) of water they use, and their total water and sewage bill will increase from $11.12 to $11.63 for every 100 cubic feet.

Based on average annual water consumption of 52,000 gallons, the DEP predicts that the average co-op and condo apartment with metered billing will experience a rise from $773 to $808 per unit — an increase of $2.85 per month.

The rate increase will bring DEP’s anticipated revenues to above $4.2 billion, which will be sufficient to fund major projects like the construction of the $1.6 billion Combined Sewer Overflow Retention Tanks for the Gowanus Canal, the $1 billion repair of the Delaware Aqueduct, the development of a comprehensive drainage system for Southeast Queens, and the excavation of the final shafts for the Brooklyn-Queens leg of City Water Tunnel.

The DEP points out that this year’s increase in the water rates is below the rate of inflation and is about 20% below the average rates of the nation’s 30 largest cities.

Everyone is experiencing inflation.

The eight million residents of the city and an extra one million people who live outside the five boroughs receive 1.2 billion gallons of water daily from the city’s water system, which is fueled by 19 reservoirs upstate. The DEP also looks after 7,400 miles of pipes, handles 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater per day, and manages stormwater runoff.

The greatest percentage increase in the twenty-first century was 14.5% in 2009, which helps put this year’s water-rate hike in context. There were no increases in 2017, 2018, or 2021, and this year’s increase is a little less than the 4.9% from the previous fiscal year.

There are certain oddities in the way New York City calculates water rates. For instance, regardless of how much wastewater a property produces, the sewer fee is a flat 159% of the water cost. As a result, a store with a sizable paved parking lot and significant rainwater runoff will be charged based on its water use rather than the amount of runoff it generates and puts into the city’s sewers.

The findings of a three-year study on how to make water rates more affordable and fair will shortly be made public by the DEP in an effort to address this and other disparities.