Jamaicans to pay higher water, sewage rates come January

Residential and commercial customers of the National Water Commission (NWC) will see an increase in their bills come next month.

The new NWC rates will be seen beginning with the January bills of customers.
(Photo: Jamaica Observer)

This, according to the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) in Jamaica, which authorised the four per cent increase in rates effective Monday, December 9.

Customers who pay sewage rates will also see an overall increase of between 15.5 per cent and 17.8 per cent with their January 2020 bills, said the OUR.

The rate hike is in keeping with the OUR’s decision on the NWC’s 2018 Tariff Application which will also affect schools and condominiums, the regulatory body said in a release yesterday.

The OUR granted a 4 per cent water rate increase effective December 9, 2019.

The increases however are small compared to the initial requests made by the NWC which proposed a 23 per cent increase for water charges revenue and 38 per cent for sewerage charges, based on its 2017 test-year, revenues, to meet a J$33.9 billion revenue requirement.

 The tariff is to be used for 24 months not the standard five years, the OUR said, stating that the inconsistency is due to gaps that it found in the NWC’s submission. Among the weaknesses listed in the statement was the utility company’s failure to include a cost of service study and an asset valuation report, which are needed for a complete assessment. “Consequently, it was concluded that it would not now be prudent to establish the normal five year tariff.”

The tariff is to be used for 24 months, said the OUR. (Photo: National Irrigation Commission)

The OUR added that the NWC is expected to formally apply for a full tariff review 20 months after the date of the Determination Notice, or by August 2021.

What’s more, the OUR said it did not approve three other requests made by the NWC in its application. These include the introduction of a sewerage service charge to reflect its fixed cost of providing customers with sewerage services; the introduction of a new regime for charging commercial customers who use water as an input to their operations but do not return all water as wastewater to its sewerage and the application of a late payment interest charge to commercial accounts that remain unpaid seven days after the due date.