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State of Rhode Island General Assembly
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Legislators unsatisfied with reasoning for Kent County Water Authority rate hikes
STATE HOUSE — After hearing a response from officials at the Kent County Water Authority over recent exorbitant rate hikes, Kent County legislators Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis, Rep. Patricia A. Serpa, Sen. Gordon E. Rogers, and Rep. George A. Nardone say they are not satisfied with the agency’s explanations.
“The Kent County Water Authority is a public entity that all too often acts with a reckless disregard for its customers,” said Senator Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, East Greenwich, West Greenwich). “They’ve been scrambling to make excuses for people who are rightly complaining about seeing huge increases in their latest bills — it’s because of the drought (even though they never issued a water ban), it’s because of a leak or it’s because people are home more due to COVID. It’s time for KWCA to stop making excuses and address this problem before they hit the remaining two-thirds of their service area the next round of outrageous bills. Their customers deserve better and we will not allow this to continue.”
Raptakis said he’s heard from several constituents concerned about their water bills, including an 85-year-old Coventry woman whose water bill rose from $47 in one quarter to $91 the next. An 88-year-old couple, also from Coventry, likewise saw their bill rise from $129 to $321 in a single quarter.
“The Kent County Water Authority is trying to tell elderly customers and other users who haven’t seen a change in their water bills for years that they have to simply accept their latest bills which simply don’t match their water use patterns,” said Raptakis. “Instead of taking this problem seriously, the authority is trying to bamboozle people, offering shifting explanations that simply don’t square with the huge increases many of them are seeing.”
The next step for ratepayers unsatisfied with the responses they received from Kent County Water Authority, according to Senator Raptakis, is for individual customers to start filing complaints with the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, which they can do at
“The KCWA indicated a willingness to review every single appeal from a customer on an individual basis,” said Representative Serpa, chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick). “Based upon what constituents report back me, it appears that the customers all receive the same generic standard response from the Water Authority, essentially that the customers are responsible for the dramatic increases. This questionable response indicates to me that the KCWA did not pursue these complaints seriously enough. They need to do better.”
Senator Rogers (R-Dist. 21, Foster, Coventry, Scituate, West Greenwich), who works in construction, says that he’s seen first-hand how much water can be lost to a leak, but that doesn’t explain a huge across-the-board increase in billing for water users in the service area.
“I’m extremely dissatisfied with the response from Kent County Water Authority,” said Senator Rogers. “If the reasons they gave for a rate hike were legitimate, then other water providers would be doing the same thing to their customers. But this problem seems to be localized to Kent County. I’m also concerned that sewer bills in many areas are based on water usage, so it could be a double hit at a time when people are struggling to get by.”
The legislators had written to the chairman of the Kent County Water Authority, Robert B. Boyer, and Executive Director/Chief Engineer David L. Simmons demanding an investigation into the astronomical billing increases. The legislators had also asked that all water shutoffs be prohibited for any disputed water bills from the August-September-October 2020 quarter.
For more information, contact:
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
Lt. Governor's Office
Secretary of State
Link to Public Records Request