Reader-submitted: L’toeles Harabim

nj american waterFor the benefit of your readers, please be aware of the Waste water charge on the American Water bills.

This amount depends on your usage at the start of the year and is charged even if no usage is recorded or if the house is vacant.

Depending on your January usage, this could easily add up to hundreds of dollars. The only way to avoid this is to have the account closed.

I have attached a copy of a water bill showing this charge. Note: It is not necessary to shut off your gas and electric accounts as they have a small minimum charge.

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  1. This happened to me too. I have a legal two family. When the apartment was vacant, I was charged nearly $60 a month. There are water charges, sewer charges, and it really adds up. This included the “sewer pocket” which is the sewer charge based on your account’s usage during the previous winter months. This is even if your whole family was on the previous account, and this is a new rental apartment. I did complain about the sewer pocket, and was told that if this year’s winter usage (Jan, Feb, March) shows a 25% differential, they MAY adjust previous months. Now, I have an additional problem, and that is that the water company meter is faulty, so my January reading is already innacurate. I had been hesitant to turn of the water, thinking that I may get a tenant soon, and thought it takes a few business days to turn on the water. Turns out that although they have 5 business days, it is usually sooner, no promises. Hatzlacha

  2. Details here.

    Why does New Jersey American Water Company charge for sewer service in Ocean City?

    New Jersey American Water Company owns and maintains the waste collection system, pumping stations and pipelines that are utilized to collect sewage from homes and businesses in the city. The sewage is transferred to the Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority (CMCMUA) sewage treatment plant located at 45th Street & West Avenue in Ocean City. The CMCMUA owns and maintains the treatment plant, pumps and pipes necessary to treat and dispose of the collected and treated sewage. Approximately 68 percent of your sewer payment covers the costs New Jersey American Water Company pays to the CMCMUA to treat and dispose of the sewage generated within Ocean City. Each municipality using the CMCMUA plant is required to pay for the volume they send to be processed. The remaining 32% percent covers New Jersey American Water’s expenses to collect sewage; maintenance of the collection system; pay local, state and federal taxes and to invest in the aging infrastructure of the waste collection system.

    What are the current sewer rates for wastewater in Ocean City?

    Sewer Service Charge (including PSTAC): NJ American Water Company provides sewer (wastewater) services in Ocean City, the Adelphia section of Howell Township and Lakewood Township only. All other communities in the State of New Jersey are either with another water company or have their own municipal water authority. Like the PWAC, the Purchased Sewerage Treatment Adjustment Clause (PSTAC) is a pass-through charge for the sewage treatment costs. The PSTAC reflects the costs that NJAWC pays to the CMCMUA for treating & disposing of wastewater in areas such as Ocean City, where they operate and maintain the sewer pipelines and collection system. Each year, the PSTAC is reset and may increase or decrease depending on many different factors, including the amount of wastewater sent to the sewage treatment plant and the authorities’ costs associated with treating & disposing of the sewage. The current charge is $35.1121 per 1,000 gallons of water usage billed at the property during the prior year’s summer quarter (July, August & September), but not less than $262.64 per year. This sewer service charge is then divided by 12 and is billed equally over the period of January through December each calendar year. The sewer service charge includes the PSTAC charge. The PSTAC rate is $24.0083 per 1,000 gallons, which is included in the above Sewer Service Charge. The total PSTAC charge represents approximately 68% percent of the overall Sewer Service Charge. The service charge includes the capital investment in the wastewater collection system pipelines and service lines and the majority of the costs for the operation and maintenance of those systems within the City.
    Volume Charge: In addition to the above monthly Sewer Service Charge there is a charge of $1.8698 per 1000 gallons ($1.39861 per 100 cubic feet) of water consumed for the current month. This is based on the amount of water utilized since your last meter reading and represents all of the costs not included in the sewer service charge.

    What is the purpose of the PSTAC?

    The PSTAC reflects the costs that New Jersey American Water Company pays to the CMCMUA for the treatment and disposal of the wastewater. Each year the PSTAC is reset and may increase or decrease depending on many different factors, including the amount of wastewater sent to the sewage treatment plant and the CMCMUA costs associated with treating and disposing of the sewage. The current rate is $24.0083 per 1,000 gallons. The total PSTAC fee is included within the Sewer Service Charge on your bill. The PSTAC currently represents approximately 68 percent of the Sewer Service Charge.

    Why is this year’s sewer service charge based on last year’s summer quarter (July, August & September) usage?

    The CMCMUA designed and built the 45th Street Waste Treatment Plant in the mid-1970s to handle the tremendous peak flows Ocean City generates during the summer months. The CMCMUA develops its annual user charge based on the previous year’s sewage flows to the treatment plant during the summer quarter (July, August & September). New Jersey American Water Company utilizes the same methodology as the CMCMUA, where they bill their customers in the current year based on the prior year’s summer consumption. This approach attempts to match the charges from the CMCMUA with the revenues received from its Ocean City customers. Their Sewer Service Charge is structured on the same basis, and ensures that everyone will share proportionately in the CMCMUA’s actual costs of owning, maintaining and operating their Ocean City Waste Treatment Facility.

    Why am I being billed for sewer services when I am not there or utilizing the property?

    Sewer service charges are billed to all customers regardless of the volume of water utilized that month. You may only be a seasonal resident and do not utilize the water service or experience any water volume during certain months of the year, but you are still being billed for the sewer service charges monthly. The annual Sewer Service Charge is based on the water usage billed during the prior summer quarter (July, August & September) and covers the fixed costs associated to provide the sewer service. New Jersey American Water Company realizes that this annual charge could be burdensome to some customers, if full payment were to be required on a once a year basis. Thus the City and the water company agreed on a billing plan that would spread the payments out equally over a 12-month period, so that customers are billed 1/12th of this charge each month throughout the calendar year. The Sewer Service Charge represents New Jersey American Water Company’s fixed costs to operate and maintain the waste collection system and the actual cost to collect the sewage, as well as the fee billed by the CMCMUA to treat, and dispose of the sewage. Over the years there has been much controversy concerning these set charges and how they are billed out annually. What must be understood is that in the end the water company will be entitled to recover their actual cost and that the charges will remain the same no matter if they are billed in one lump sum or spread out in 12 equal payments. For the average property owner it appears to be more desirous to have the payments spread out equally and to afford them the opportunity to budget the cost over the entire year. In a way, it is a type of budget plan, similar to what is currently being offered by other public utilities for the services that they provide. The only difference is that the entire City is on the same plan and that it was negotiated on your behalf by City representatives at the time the new processing plant was built in the mid 1970’s.

  3. Basically if you use water, the water goes into the sewer. The water company besides charging you for the actual water,they charge you for the waste. Now unlike other utilities that without use their is no charge, the water company always charges you a fee as if you had water going into your sewer. This will show up as a monthly charge on your bill . This can translate that If you have a property that is vacant, you will still be charged a fee for the water that it going into the sewer, witch will be charged to you monthly. Therefore the writer suggests that you shut your water for the month of January.

  4. I sent in the original post to help others avoid having to pay a substantial water bill even when there is no usage.
    As I can see from the above comments more information will be beneficial.

    Here are the basic facts.

    1)The above only applies if you both your water service and wastewater service is with American Water.
    2)Water service charges are comprised of a minimum fee plus the current months ACTUAL usage.
    3)Sewer service charges are not based on the current month actual usage but on an average usage of 3 established months .(I was told by the water company it is July ,August ,September)
    4)For example if the sewer rate is established at 100 dollars you will pay 100 a month on the sewer portion the whole year regardless of your actual usage while the water portion is based on ACTUAL usage of the current month.
    The result is that even if your unit is vacant or you will be away for an extended period of time you may be charged Hundreds of dollars as I was on the attached bill.
    The bottom line is the only way to avoid this is to have the company shut off the water.
    (Look at your bill if your fixed sewer charge is low it may not be worth it to you to shut it off.)

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