A representative from the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) fielded questions about the coming water rate increases from concerned residents at a meeting of the Dyker Heights Civic Association on Tuesday, May 12.
Mario Bruno, a Dyker Heights native and assistant commissioner for intergovernmental relations for the DEP, told locals that the 2.9 percent increase in the water rate will be used to fund regulatory projects mandated by the federal and state government.
“There’s a work ethic to save as much as possible,” he told the crowd of about 20. “The less mandates we have to deal with, the less the increases will be.”
The mandates, which, according to a DEP statement are “necessary investments for the long-term protection of the city’s water supply,” are not funded by the regulatory agencies that require them.
“A lot of the cost is driven by unfunded mandates,” he said of the increases slated for July 1.
Still, residents protested the rapid increase in water rates, citing that costs have increased 80 percent since 2005.
“It’s having an impact on people who live here. They can’t afford it,” said Fran Vella-Marrone, president of the civic association. “We need a break.”
Those in attendance also drew ire over the policies of the New York City Water Board, which determines rates for the city’s water and sewer system, but operates separately from the DEP and pays to rent city services and facilities.
“The rental system is a gimmick,” Vella-Marrone said. “One agency renting from another is nonsense. There shouldn’t be a rental.”
Bruno said that the city’s water board rental policy is set by state laws, not the DEP.