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Increased overage rates for customers of the Riverhead Water District took effect on Oct. 1. 

The rate increase was approved by the town board in July 2020. The town board also authorized a large decrease in the gallonage included in its customers’ minimum service charge, a small increase in price and an added annual surcharge fee for capital improvements and maintenance that all took effect last year.  

In-district customers will see a $.15 per thousand gallon overage increase through 2023. While the old price was set at $1.73 per thousand gallons, the price was increased to $1.78 per thousand gallons on Oct 1. The price will increase to $1.83 per thousand gallons on Oct 1, 2022 and $1.88 per thousand gallons on Oct. 1, 2023.

Out of district customers experienced a one time increase of $.17 on Oct. 1, with no other rate raises scheduled.

Water District Superintendent Frank Mancini said in an interview Friday that the service fee and taxes associated with the water authority keep residents’ rates well below the rates of the neighboring Suffolk County Water Authority. Riverhead last raised their rates in August 2016.

A memo on the towns increase listed next to the rate increases is not dated and says the surcharge is new. The surcharge started last year, not this year.

The annual surcharge costs $80 for residential customers, who have 5/8-inch and 1-inch pipes, and is billed on the fourth period of their quarterly billing schedule. The surcharge is $120 for commercial customers, who have 1.5-inch to 10-inch pipes, and is billed on the 10th period of their monthly billing schedule. Mancini said the timing allows the maximum amount of time for residents to pay off the fee before it hits their arrears.

The water district has roughly 12,000 residential customers and 500 commercial customers, Mancini said. The money generated by the surcharge is about 980,000, Mancini said, and will be used, at the approval of the town board, towards paying bonds on capital improvement projects.

The most recent projects proposed by the board for the water district are improvements to Plant No. 5 on Middle Rd, and the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the water storage tank on Old Country Road. The town board held a public hearing on the proposed improvements but heard few comments in-person before dismissing the hearing. The maximum estimated cost of the project is around $5,976,000.

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: [email protected]