Ciresi calls out privatized rate hikes for wastewater in Limerick, Pa.

Demands public hearings and clearer language on rate increases for the sake of transparency and fairness

ROYERSFORD, June 7 – State Rep. Joe Ciresi today spoke against the negative impact of Aqua Pennsylvania’s recent proposed wastewater rate hike on Limerick Township ratepayers and advocated for legislation that would require public hearings and clearer language on rate increases in public notifications for the sake of transparency and fairness.

“Aqua Pennsylvania is proposing a 19% rate increase in Limerick Township following the near doubling of rates in the township less than three years ago,” Ciresi said. “If the rate increase is approved by the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission, customers would see a significant bill increase at a time when they’re already struggling.”

The most recent hike is proposed from $78 to $93 for 3,870 gallons per month. This comes less than three years after 5,000 households in Limerick Township saw a near 100% increase in wastewater rates. 

Ciresi’s remarks also highlighted the dangers of privatization, as Aqua Pennsylvania will be raising rates in one district to make capital improvements in another district. He drew parallels between the rate hikes and the satirical plot of the Tony winning Musical Urinetown, in which people are faced with wastewater rates that are so high, using the bathroom becomes a privilege.

“The sobering truth is that without better safeguards in place, privatizing something as essential as water is sending us down a dystopian path where profits are prioritized over people,” Ciresi said. “Turning water into a commodity strips it of its essence, making life's most basic necessity a privilege for the few rather than a right for all. Privatization of water utilities betrays our collective duty to ensure clean, accessible water for every human being.

“As the song from the musical goes, ‘times are hard, cash is tight, and you’ve got no right!’”

Ciresi said that he chose a senior community for his news conference because it’s the most vulnerable who pay a bigger price for utilities.

“Raised rates in one area should never be used to fund improvements in other districts, as Aqua is doing. Limerick residents, and especially our seniors and those on fixed incomes, already struggling after what happened to their rates a couple of years ago. They can’t be burdened with another double-digit hike,” Ciresi said. “Aqua needs to go back to the drawing board on these changes.”

Ciresi joined with Chairman Matzie of the House Consumer Protection, Utilities and Technology Committee as a co-sponsor of legislation to reform Act 12, which was the law that paved the way for greater privatization of municipal water and wastewater systems. This package of bills would reform the process, provide relief and reduce costs to ratepayers and provide more transparency. 

“Pennsylvanians have a constitutional right to clean, affordable and accessible water,” Ciresi said.  “But privatization has turned water in a commodity from which corporations can profit by gouging ratepayers.  The reforms I’m pushing for to Act 12 would ensure needed transparency and reduce costs for ratepayers.”