BUFFALO, NY - After raising rates for three consecutive years, The Erie County Water Authority Board of Commissioners approved a revised rate structure at its regular meeting on Thursday, which it says will result in no rate increases for the vast majority of customers in 2017

The restructuring, which will take effect on January 1, may also result in a decrease in the amount some customers pay, because it eliminates a "summer surcharge" which the Water Authority had been adding to bills.

Rates will remain flat for customers with meters of one inch or less which, according to the Water Authority, comprises 97% of customers system wide.

The Water Authority derives operational income not only through the rates it charges customers for water, but also through an infrastructure charge, which is almost seven times as much as it was when it was instituted 5 years ago.

However, the Water Authority says the infrastructure charge will be frozen at its current level for the next three years.

The Water Authority will increase its capitol budget - which is used for upgrades to pipes, pumping stations, and plants, by $4 million to $32 Million in 2017.

In a statement, the Water Authority said that despite holding the line on rates, it was able to do this through efficiencies within the agency and by refinancing outstanding debt at a lower rate.