Laurel, Md. – May 12, 2022 – WSSC Water’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 budget was unanimously approved today by Montgomery and Prince George’s County Councils at their annual bi-county meeting. The nearly $1.5 billion budget for all operating and capital funds is $76.1 million less than the FY 2022 Approved Budget. In response to substantial financial losses due to COVID-19, WSSC Water cut nearly $134 million from the budget, including more than $110 million in capital projects, impacting water and sewer work in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. The FY 2023 budget includes $3.5 million - a $200,000 increase from the FY 2022 budget - to enhance financial assistance programs.
“Despite significant cost-cutting measures, this budget protects public health and ensures our financially vulnerable customers have the resources necessary to keep our safe, clean water flowing to their taps,” said WSSC Water General Manager and CEO Carla A. Reid. “I thank both county councils for their commitment to enhancing our financial assistance programs and investing in key infrastructure projects that create jobs and drive economic development in our region.”
Project highlights of the FY 23 budget include:
- $71.6 million to replace approximately 25 miles of small diameter water mains;
- $45.7 million for large diameter water mains and large valve rehabilitation, including replacement of 5 miles of large diameter water mains;
- $50.5 million to rehabilitate approximately 31 miles of small diameter sewer mains and lateral lines, which is partially funded by state grants from the Bay Restoration Fund;
- $56.9 million to rehabilitate 10.6 miles of large and small diameter sewer mains in environmentally sensitive areas;
- $74.7 million for construction of the Piscataway Bioenergy Project, using in-part low-interest loans from the Maryland Department of the Environment’s Water Quality Financing Administration;
- $34.5 million to continue planned upgrades to the Potomac and Patuxent Water Filtration Plants; and
- $5.7 million to continue upgrades to more energy efficient equipment and systems.
The budget is based on a 6.5 percent average rate increase. A typical customer with a family of three, using 55 gallons of water per person per day, would see a quarterly increase of $15.68 in their bill. The rate increase conforms with limits set by both Montgomery and Prince George’s county councils when they approved WSSC Water’s Spending Affordability Guidelines. The FY 2023 budget and new rates begin on July 1, 2022. Revenue generated by the new rates will help repair and replace aging infrastructure – creating jobs and ensuring customers continue to receive unparalleled water quality.
Residential Quarterly Water/Sewer Bill Comparison (165 gallons per day)
WSSC Water’s FY 2022 and FY 2023 rates and fees are competitive locally and nationally and well below the 4.5 percent threshold that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers to be affordable for customers.
Reduced Consumption and Revenue Trends
Reduced revenues as a result of COVID-19 is taking place during a long-term trend of reduced water consumption by WSSC Water customers of nearly 6 percent over the last 20 years. To keep pace with rising costs and service demands and to help offset revenue loss, WSSC Water requested a 9 percent rate increase for FY 2023, which was not supported by the County Councils. For the past three years, the councils have recommended rate increases that were approximately 2 percent lower than requested, resulting in continued budget cuts. The impact of both trends is creating revenue deficits that are growing bigger each year.
Financial Assistance: WSSC Water is Here to Help
To assist customers behind on their water/sewer bill, WSSC Water strongly encourages residents to learn more about an enhanced portfolio of financial assistance programs.
Any customer, including commercial and government accounts, can establish a convenient payment plan by calling our Customer Service Advisors at 301-206-4001, Monday - Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 7 p.m. Tenants must first get approval from the property owner to be able to enter into a payment plan.
Customer Assistance Program (CAP)
WSSC Water will continue waiving late fees for those enrolled in CAP, which provides a credit for fixed fees (including the Bay Restoration Fund fee collected on behalf of the state of Maryland) up to $45 per quarter or $180 per year. To enroll, customers must first apply for energy assistance directly through the Maryland Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP). More than 17,000 customers are currently enrolled in CAP. Customers that qualify for OHEP assistance will automatically be enrolled in CAP. Find more at wsscwater.com/cap.
In collaboration with The Salvation Army, the WSSC Water Fund helps residential customers pay their water/sewer bills. Since the pandemic began, 7,506 individuals/2,106 households have received nearly $1.1 million in assistance from the Water Fund; 100 percent of all donations go directly to those in need. Customers can make multiple requests for help with water and sewer bills, up to $500 per year. To make a tax-deductible donation or to request assistance, go to wsscwater.com/waterfund.
Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP)
LIHWAP is a new federally funded program administered by the state and is designed to assist Maryland families who are more than 30 days behind on their water/sewer bills. Applicants must have their name on the bill and live at the address on the bill. Renters are also eligible. Find out if you qualify at www.dhs.maryland.gov/OHEP. Funds are limited, so apply today.
The two county councils held their annual bi-county meeting to approve WSSC Water’s budget, along with the budgets for the bi-county portion of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Central Administrative Services and the Washington Suburban Transit Commission. The budget document can be viewed here: wsscwater.com/fin.