THE BRONX - The New York City Water Board approved an 11.5 percent price hike for Bronx and city residents Monday. The hike will go into effect July 1. Many local leaders blasted the plan, saying the increase will have a damaging effect on those who are on fixed incomes. Many homeowners say they'll now have to stretch their budgets even more to make ends meet. The hike will result in a $72 average increase per year for a single-family home. Water Board Executive Director Steven Lawitts said the increase is justified because the city's water rates have been lower than the national average for years.