Water customers who live outside Bethlehem may have to pay more if the PUC okays a rate increase.

"Increased medical and pension expenses, as well as capital requirements for ongoing system maintenance, are driving the need for this rate increase," said Dave Brong, director of water and sewer resources,

The city has eliminated nine water utility jobs in the past 10+ years, which is 11 percent of the workforce, Brong said.

In addition, the city has saved $1.2 million each year because of refinanced debt and other savings efforts.

Bethlehem has also sought more revenue from non-water rate sources to help pay for the system, including selling land, and pursuing renewable energy sources.

The city provides water service to around 116,000 people inside and outside Bethlehem.

If the rate increase is approved, the quarterly bill for a typical residential customer using 14,000 gallons of water would go from $80.27 to $95.04 or more than 18 percent.

The request filed Tuesday requires an average increase of nearly 16 percent for all customer classes--residential, commercial and industrial.