A 4 percent increase in water rates was approved unanimously by the Bristol County Water Authority board Wednesday evening, Jan. 22. Two board members were absent.
The rate increase will mean the average residential user will spend about 39 cents more per week for water or a total of approximately $524 a year – up from $504.
The rate increase will go into effect on March 1 – the start of the water authority’s 2015 fiscal year. The rate increase came after a sparsely attended public hearing at the water authority offices in Warren.
BCWA Executive Director Pamela Marchand made a presentation to explain the need for the rate increase and how the authority got to this point. She said the additional cash will go toward operating a distribution system that provides the highest quality water distributed by an aging infrastructure that was built in the 1800s.
That aging infrastructure, Marchand said, includes 231 miles of cast iron pipelines – 100 of which need cleaning or lining with concrete; renovating pumping stations; upgrading the metering system; installing water tank mixing equipment; developing a second source of water to replace reservoirs that have been shut off in Massachusetts; replacing an outdated computer and management information system, and dealing with fixed costs while revenues continue to decline because of reduced demand.
The BCWA board also approved a $12.13 million total spending plan for next year. That includes an almost $8 million operating budget -- about .5 percent higher than the current year.
The financial plan includes $3.43 million for debt service and $900,000 for capital projects, such as the cleaning and lining of the cast iron pipes. The board also approved a $4 million bond that will be floated in the spring for pipe cleaning and lining, bringing the cost of the infrastructure work to $4.92 million.