Water bills bubbling up

Philadelphians will see their water bills surge by 17.5 percent over the next three years, the city announced Friday.

Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug initially requested an increase of 28.5 percent over four years, but settled with Community Legal Services, a public advocate, on the compromise rates, which will give the department $140 million in new revenue.

Part of that money will go to fixing or replacing the city's aging water mains, Water Department spokeswoman Laura Copeland said.

The monthly bill for a "typical residential customer," who now pays about $57 per month, will rise by a total of about $10 by 2015, the department said in a statement.

Raise rejection nixed

A Common Pleas judge Friday denied a union president's request to stop a deal imposed by the Nutter administration that included pay raises and givebacks.

Michael Walsh, head of the Local 2186 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, requested that a plan that included pay raises, furloughs and significant givebacks for pension and health-care costs be halted because the administration failed to hold a public hearing before implementing the changes in October.

Judge Idee C. Fox denied the request for an injunction. An opinion has not yet been issued.

Walsh and roughly 5,500 other nonunion and exempt city workers are subject to the new deal. Walsh's union includes supervisors at several city agencies, including the Department of Human Services.

The city's blue- and white-collar unions - which have been without a contract since 2009, were offered a similar deal but rejected it and, for now, negotiations are at a standstill.

Herb garden busted

Authorities have discovered hundreds of full-grown marijuana plants and others "in the incubation stage" at what they say was an elaborate Fishtown growhouse in which children were living.

The District Attorney's Office charged Vinh Quang Nguyen, 41, with possession with intent to distribute, risking a catastrophe, and endangering the welfare of a child.

Nguyen was arrested Thursday, after authorities raided his home on the 2300 block of Frankford Ave. He was arraigned and held on $1 million bail with a Dec. 27 court date set.

Brady wins Brady award

Local 10-1 of the United Steelworkers Union has created a Bob Brady Working Class Hero Award. On Saturday, its first award will be given to - Bob Brady.

"We wanted to show our appreciation to Congressman Brady for saving our jobs," said local president Jim Savage said. "Brady stepped up to the plate and fought for us, and his fight resulted in a joint venture with the Carlyle Group and Sunoco Inc. and the formation of a new company - Philadelphia Energy Solutions. We named an award after Bob Brady, and he will be the first to receive what will be an annual award."

Pranked nurse dies

LONDON - A nurse who fell victim to a prank telephone call in which the caller sought information about the duchess of Cambridge's pregnancy has died in what is presumed to be a suicide, a hospital said Friday.

Jacintha Saldanha, 46, was found dead early Friday at apartments affiliated with King Edward VII hospital in central London, where she worked for four years.

The death is being treated as unexplained, but police did not find anything suspicious. It will be up to a coroner to decide how she died.

2DayFM, the Australian station that performed the prank early Tuesday, said in a statement posted on Facebook and Twitter that two disc jockeys, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, would not return to the station until further notice. On Wednesday they apologized for the hoax.

Saldanha took the hoax call by the pair, who impersonated Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles to elicit information on Kate Middleton, the hospital said. Saldanha later transferred the call to the nurse caring for the duchess, who was admitted to the hospital Monday with acute morning sickness.

-Staff and wire report