United Water Toms River did get a rate increase, but customer bills likely won't look terribly more costly. However, they will be arriving more often.

United Water Toms River Tower (United Water Toms River)

The company that serves Toms River, South Toms River and Berkeley Township is transitioning from quarterly statements to monthly ones.

If you get a quarterly bill in May, your first monthly bill will arrive in June. Customers getting quarterly bills in June will begin receiving monthly statements in July. Those with quarterly bills arriving in July will see invoices arrive every month starting in August.

According to Director of Operations Jim Mastrokalos, there's no rate increase attached to the conversion. "Meters will be read monthly instead of quarterly," says Mastrokalos, " and the charges will be divided equally by three. It's just a smaller window of time [for billing]."

Mastrokalos believes that the smaller billing cycle has advantages for customers, saying that ratepayers will have "timely information of their water usage, giving them the ability to dictate the way they use water" more effectively.

He concedes that billing under any time frame offers an assessment of water usage. But the monthly system, he says, can help spot problems that lead to outlandish bills before they have a chance to grow.

"We can change our decisions and our usage profiles on a more timely basis," he says. "If we choose to increase our usage for [lawn] irrigation, we can understand in a more timely manner what that impact is going to be."

Mastrokalos adds that monthly statements will help the supplier and users readily identify leaks that might be driving bills skyward.

Lawn watering is a critical component to United Water's usage cycles. It takes place, naturally, during warm months, and usually escalates in low-rain periods, adding greater strain to quickly-depleting supplies.

The company's "ET Index" offers a gauge with suggested irrigation timing based on individual use in a four-day framework. The United Water Toms River web page carriers conservation recommendations and consumer information.

"We hope that the more frequent billing will keep conservation more in the forefront," says Mastrokalos, "and hopefully promote conscientious usage."

More frequent billing equals more paperwork, which equals more overhead costs. But Mastrokalos says they expect to negate it through quicker and larger identification of leaks in their system, or yours.

"We're promoting conservation, saving leakage and loss, and providing a higher level of service, for a net gain of zero," says Mastrokalos, adding that monthly bills are expected to also create a more consistent cash flow at United Water's offices.

The company also instituted "electronic billing," including automatic withdrawals from customer bank accounts, as a means of reducing paper costs.