FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Laurel – June 29, 2012: Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) customers will see an increase in two areas of their bills, effective July 1: a doubling of the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fee (BRF) and a 7.5% rate hike in water and sewer bills.
The Maryland Legislature passed, and Governor Martin O’Malley signed, a bill which doubles the current BRF to $5 per month effective July 1, 2012. WSSC collects the BRF, commonly referred to as the “flush tax,” on behalf of the state. It is listed as a separate item on WSSC’s quarterly customer bills. The Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) uses the revenue to fund improvements to wastewater treatment plants owned by utilities throughout the state, including WSSC. Primarily the upgrades reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution into the Chesapeake Bay.
The “flush tax” measure also includes a Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund financial hardship exemption provision. WSSC Commissioners approved a new exemption program last month.
To qualify for the exemption, residential customers must meet at least two of the following four criteria:
- Receipt of energy assistance or WSSC Water Fund assistance within the last 12 months. Confirmation on official letterhead required.
- Receipt of public assistance or food stamps within the last 12 months. Confirmation on official letterhead required.
- Receipt of Veteran’s or Social Security disability benefits within the last 12 months. Confirmation on official letterhead required.
- Meet income criteria. Current year’s tax return required.
Those who qualify for an exemption must re-certify annually. To find additional information or apply for the exemption go to the Exemption Application or call (301) 206-4001.
In addition to the doubling of the Bay Restoration Fee, WSSC’s 7.5 % rate increase goes into effect July 1, 2012. The increase will pay for water and sewer reconstruction programs, inspection and repair of critical water and sewer infrastructure and increased costs of Sanitary Sewer Overflow Consent Decree compliance. The rate increase would add approximately $4.86 per month to the bill of a customer who uses 210 gallons of water per day.