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Cranberry hikes water, sewage rates

CRANBERRY TWP — Most Cranberry residents will pay slightly more for water and sewage service beginning in August.

The township’s Board of Supervisors on Thursday approved updates to Cranberry’s water and sewage fee schedule that will raise average water bills from $35 per month to $38 per month beginning with the August bill, and sewage bills will gradually rise from an average of $46 a month in July to an average of $58 per month in August 2023.

The new rates, the township said, will still be lower than in most surrounding municipalities.

Cranberry’s higher water and sewage rates are the result of the township’s first water and sewer rate study since 2009. The township previously increased water rates in 2018 and sewage rates in 2019 without a rate study.

Greg Hoover, interim director of the township’s utilities department, said Thursday the higher rates are due to a combination of higher operating expenses and aging infrastructure, and protects Cranberry’s bond rating.

“The electric bill at the wastewater plant has gone up by $350,000 annually, just due to impact of the electric rates, as well as chemical costs — that’s also escalating,” Hoover said.

Certain residential developments are also becoming older, meaning the pipes serving water and sewer services to those areas may need to be replaced.

“The water lines, the sewer lines, they’re all underground, so it is very hard to determine what is their condition,” Hoover said. “You don’t see it. You don’t see a pothole in the water line just like you would on a road.”

Cranberry residents’ water rates will increase both with the meter and usage charges. A typical 5/8-inch water meter will increase from $7 to $8 per month, and the cost per 1,000 gallons of water will increase from $7.27 to $7.90. Both changes take effect July 27.

Sewage rates will increase in a three-step process, Hoover said. Beginning July 27, the cost for sewage service at residences with a 5/8-inch water meter will increase from $9 per month to $11 per month, with the cost per 1,000 gallons of water increasing from $9.48 to $10.78.

In January, the service charge will increase again to $12 per month, and the township will charge residents $11.28 per 1,000 gallons of water for sewage service. Finally, in July 2023, Cranberry residents will pay $13 per month as a minimum meter charge and $11.78 per 1,000 gallons of water for sewage.

Despite the increases, Hoover said township residents utilizing Cranberry water and sewage services will pay less than most nearby communities.

The average water bill, for instance, will be $1 more expensive than the bill for the same water consumption in Pine Township, Allegheny County, Hoover said, but $12 cheaper than residents in Adams Township and $29 less expensive than Pennsylvania-American Water customers’ bills.

Hoover noted the average sewage bill would become $32 more expensive than Breakneck Creek Regional Authority customers’ bills — the authority, which serves buildings in nine municipalities, charges a flat rate each month — but is $5 less expensive than Western Butler County Authority customers’ bills, $15 cheaper than Pennsylvania-American customers’ bills and $29 less expensive than the bills of customers served by the Evans City Water and Sewer Authority.

“Our rates are still some of the most competitive in the area,” township manager Dan Santoro said.