A Closer Look At The Water Bill

April 9, 2018
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Commentary contributed by Dave Brackett |

Have you ever wondered why your water bill seems so high, and more importantly, stays amazingly constant but occasionally dramatically higher?

Isn’t it interesting that your bill seems high even if you have been on vacation?

Well, the reason is that water is billed in categories of use instead of actual usage. If your consumption exceeds a given threshold, you are billed for an additional amount regardless of whether you use it or not. Technically this is called regressive billing which means the more water you use the less you pay for it, per gallon. In Atlantic Highlands, where I live, it is possible for someone that doesn’t use much water to pay five times the amount per gallon as someone that consumes 25,000 gallons.

This phenomena only seems to occur with water. For example, your natural gas bill is based directly on how much volume of gas you use. Your electric usage is billed the same way. Both of these services have pipelines (wires) going to your house and meters at your house to indicated how much you use just like water. The bills include costs for all maintenance just like water. So basically there is no excuse for a different billing structure used for water.

Ok, so we live in New Jersey and everyone is rich, right, so why does it matter? Well, have you ever heard anyone complain about pollution? In my part of New Jersey we cannot eat shellfish because of the amount of human waste- water they have filtered. Sometimes it is so bad we cannot even swim at the beach for risk of getting sick.

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Could it be that we just generate too much wastewater? Well maybe part of the problem is we are rewarded for generating more wastewater by the billing structure.

So why aren’t our leaders doing something about this? I asked the same question of my leaders in Atlantic Highlands about three months ago. The answer should be simple since we own our own water system. I was completely ignored. When I discuss the issue with the people that operate the utility, they couldn’t say why we are billed this way and lamented that they can only do what they are told.

I think we need to make this an issue our leaders cannot ignore. The benefits could be amazing.

Dave Brackett
Atlantic Highlands

This article was first published in the March 8-15, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.

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