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Water rates jump in Puerto Rico


San Juan, Jul 15 (EFE).- Water rates in Puerto Rico will rise starting Monday between $4 and $64 per month even as state-owned utility AAA gets tough on customers in arrears.

The new charges mean that those who consume up to 10,000 liters (2,642 gallons) of water a month will see their water bills rise from $19.71 to $23.71.

Residential customers who use much larger amounts of water could see their average monthly bills rise from $44.36 to $71.96.

AAA's CEO, Alberto Lazaro, said the rate hike will go through transition period - up to October - during which consumer billing will be divided into the old and new prices, with all billing being prorated.

He said that during the fiscal year beginning this month AAA expects to collect about $350 million, which happens to be the amount that the state-run corporation is in debt.

Puerto Rico's cash-strapped government is not in a position to cover AAA's debt.

The public company also wants to be more efficient with customers who are behind in paying their water bill, and so the goal has been set to cut service to 6,000 customers a week if they are not properly paid up.