Berlin considering hikes in water, sewer rates

Berlin considering hikes in water, sewer rates

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BERLIN — The Water Control Commission is considering its first rate increase in inearly a decade, possibly raising the cost of water by around one-third third and sewage by one-tenth.

The new rates will rise to $4.15 per 100 cubic feet of drinking water used, up from the current $3.12, and $5.92 per cubic foot for sewer usage, up from $5.38.

“It was to a point that we haven’t gone up on the water side in eight years or so,” said Chairman Bruce Laroche. A public hearing on the increases is scheduled as part of the commission’s Nov. 27 meeting.

Water Control Manager Ray Jarema said the increases are especially needed because the Water Control Department has numerous recent and ongoing infrastructure maintenance projects, such as pump replacements, relining the Belcher Brook sewer and work to replace or refurbish wells with depleting supply. 

The Belcher Brook project costs more than $2 million and the well work costs roughly $500,000.

Jarema also believes an overhaul of the water mains in East Berlin will be necessary soon, estimating a price tag of around $600,000. The department acquired the East Berlin water systems when the water district covering that region went defunct in the 1960s and found that many of the lines have become clogged, with one main recently breaking.

"A lot of towns don't necessarily do a lot of infrastructure because it's extremely costly," he said, adding that the projects are long overdue and have been avoided by past water administrations.

The issue is common across the state, with the American Society of Civil Engineers rating Connecticut's overall infrastructure at a C-, with a D+ for wastewater and C- for drinking water infrastructure.

Laroche said the commission is considering the increase instead of deferring some of the projects because its rates are lower than other area water services. 

The Metropolitan District Commission, which serves the greater Hartford area, charges $3.14 per 100 cubic feet of drinking water and $3.37 per cubic foot of sewage. Southington charges residents $3.19 per cubic foot of drinking water and $3.00 per cubic foot for sewage, while Meriden’s rates are $4.44 per ccf for water and $4.49 for sewage.

How the rate increases will affect residents is complicated by the two municipal water districts not under the town’s jurisdiction. The Worthington Fire District buys its water from the Water Department, but also charges customers a mill rate to keep their rate lower.

Kensington Fire District Committee Chairman Joseph Pagliaruli said the district purchases its water directly from New Britain, meaning customers won’t see any change in prices. He said the district conducted a study and found its rates are lower than the other two districts even with the additional mill rate they charge customers. 

“Every year we invest in the infrastructure and we maintain low rates,” he said.
Twitter: @leith_yessian


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