Watertown residents will pay about 13 cents more a day for water, the Town Council learned this week.
Consultant Chris Woodcock of Woodcock & Associates, said the water/sewer rate will rise 3.7 percent in Fiscal 2016, which begins July 1, 2015. The average water bill will rise from $3.39 a day to $3.52 a day, Woodcock said.
“That could be saved by saving 750 gallons in a quarter,” Woodcock said.
Water and sewer in Watertown are enterprise funds, and must pay for itself. Part of the cost of water is the MWRA charge. Woodcock said Watertown’s charge rose more than other communities.
“MWRA sales have dropped, and are sort of leveling off,” Woodcock said. “Watertown’s purchases are dropping, but other communities are dropping faster. The implication is your share bumps up.”
The rate is based on the projected water use, which Woodcock projects to be 105.6 million cubic feet per year, up about 1 million cubic feet.
A few of the Town Councilors said they believe the new residential projects have contributed to Watertown’s higher use of water compared to other towns.
Councilor Angeline Kounelis said large residential developments are replacing an industrial sites, sometimes with only one small building and the rest of the property used for storage.
“Surely it has much greater water use,” Kounelis said.
A project with 100 residential units could add 1 million cubic feet of water, Councilor Vincent Piccirilli suggested.
The town can make efforts to cut water usage. Residents can cut their water usage, but the bigger places where the town can reduce water usage is by finding places where water is leaking, said Department of Public Works Superintendent Gerald Mee.
“We have a loss rate of about 13.9 percent,” Mee said. “Getting down to 10 percent is where we are heading. Some communities lose 20 percent.”
Mee said the DPW is committed to fixing water pipe breaks, and will be out there any time of day or night to repair a break.
Another focus will be on making sure water meters are working properly. Woodcock said older meters slow down and there for do not count the proper amount of water. He acknowledged, however, it is not a “sexy” thing for the Town Council to sell to residents.
“It’s hard for me to tell you I want to raise rates to replace meters with ones that are more accurate so I can charge you more,” Woodcock said.
Mee said the town will first look at water meters for commercial users, which typically use more water.