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Water Rate Hikes -- But How Much?

The Bristol County Water Authority needs 12 percent more revenue next year or almost 25 percent over the next five years. That will require boosts in water rates.

A boost in water rates appears inevitable each year over the next five years. Just how large the rate increases will be for Bristol County ratepayers is the question.

“We need a 12 percent boost in revenue next year,” said Allan Klepper of Barrington, chairman of the Bristol County Water Authority. “Then we’re looking at revenue increases of 3 percent each year over the next four years.”

That does not mean a 12 percent boost in rates this year or another 12 percent over four years after that, Klepper said. Those are boosts in revenue – not rates.

The water authority is working with a consultant on a water rate study, he said. That study will determine the new proposed charges for each customer class. Businesses will pay a different rate than homeowners, for instance. And the state demands a "conservation" rate, he said, which BCWA already has. The less you use, the less you pay per gallon and vice versa.

Of course, said Klepper, “We will be holding public hearings on all rate proposals.”

Because the BCWA’s fiscal year starts on March 1, he said, those hearings will take place in January and February.

The boost in revenue is based on the water authority’s plan to interconnect with the Pawtucket Water Supply System as an alternate source of water even as several major issues remain unresolved, Klepper said in the BCWA’s monthly report to the Barrington Town Council last week.

BCWA is supporting the state’s plan to connect it through East Providence to Pawtucket, the report says. To that end, the authority has voted to contribute 25 percent or $56,250 of the estimated $225,000 engineering project design cost subject to the remaining costs being contributed by East Providence (25%) and the state (50%).

Since this project would qualify as a regional interconnection, the funding for the construction of the project would also be borne by the state, EP and BCWA in the same percentages — provided that each party has funds available to it, Klepper said in his report.

BCWA is faced with a “unique set of circumstances” since it is subject to the Water Supply Act, Klepper said. First, it is legally required to maintain the Shad Line, the existing reservoirs and the Water Treatment Plant.

"This is costly," he said.

The Act now requires the state to fund all expenses for those purposes. The state has within its control approximately $6.9 million of bond proceeds for this purpose. If the state and BCWA drop the Shad project, the legislation must be amended.

Klepper said the BCWA wants to protect that $6.9 million while changing the legislation so it can concentrate on the Interconnection Project. Meanwhile, the state has told the BCWA that it is preparing amendments to the legislation for “defeasance” (make null and void) the allocation of the $6.9 million from its original intent.

This makes it questionable if the $6.9 million can be reallocated to BCWA for the interconnection project, Klepper said.

“The elephant-in-the-room is if and how the state intends to replace those funds so that they may be applied as our contribution to the new project,” Klepper said.

If this is not clearly identified, the fiscal burden will again fall upon our ratepayers,” he said. “We cannot let that happen.”

Klepper told the Town Council that the BCWA plans to brief all elected officials in Barrington, Warren and Brisitol and the public on this situation.

Joe Bremen November 13, 2012 at 04:46 PM
What a joke "First, it is legally required to maintain the Shad Line, the existing reservoirs and the Water Treatment Plant" You havn't done this in the last 20 years why do you suddenly need a change. Breaking promises and not doing your jobs is the order of the day for the BCWA. Nothing changes as usual. Desolve this cash cow for the chosen few at the expense of ratepayers and taxpayers.
ROBERT PATTERSON November 13, 2012 at 08:54 PM
DITTO! YOU HIT RIGHT ON.
Lorraine F November 14, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Lets face it, water rates are going up, property taxes are going up, income taxes are going up. Anything government is going up. Nobody seems to care! I just hope BCWA has a good explanation written out that explains why rates have to go up this high. They were bumbling fools when they tried to explain the last set of rate hikes.
Joe Bremen November 14, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Lorraine F The excuse last time was "A Super Storm" and "To much rain during the Spring" Since we just had Sandy and a lot of rain in the spring, I suspect that will be the excuse this time as well. Because the excuse in the article is about as believable as that stuff was the last time. Place should have been dissolved back then and given to the State it is long over due for that action. Funnt how this seems to come about right after Union Contract is approved along with so called pension solutions. hmmmm
b kcaj November 14, 2012 at 01:10 AM
What a surprise-Jack Baillargeron blaming and criticizing the unions. Here's an idea Jack, if you really want to make a statement about how much you dislike unions-Call the federal government and tell them to stop sending you your pension checks from your UNIONIZED fireman job at the navy base. That will sure make a statement Jack.
Bear401 November 14, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Maintenance/preventive maintenance & things along those lines Always take a back seat $-wise in favor of $ going to more "desk jockey's" while the #'s of people who actually do that kind of work decrease. Now add in more housing & condo developments all connected to the system means more pipes to be installed & maintained, more water needs to be brought in & treated, higher treatment costs follow that, & so on. Same type of situation for the waste water plant.
Bear401 November 14, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Because the town also has the same utility bills you do & the $ to pay those bills comes from your property taxes & various fees your property taxes will be effected by any increase in any utility. The state does the same things. Tax payers are also going to be shelling out more tax money over time for assistance to all of the blue collar retirees who had their COLA's taken away due to the state giving pensions to cronnies who Never contributed for them. Every increase in the Cost of Living which is Everything your paycheck goes towards pushes these retirees & there are thousands closer to that poverty line. Eventually they'll cross it & you all are gong to pay for the States continuing thievery & corruption.
Lorraine F November 14, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Bear, My point above: "Nobody seems to care".
Joe Bremen November 14, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Bear401/Lorraine Main problem with that Bear is BCWA does not treat water, it comes from Providence all ready treated The constanding building with no repair for the 2400 ratepayers who have no pressure and the 47% of firemains below pressure standards, paydown on the crossbay pipeline is next to nill after 20 years, deals with RWU, foolish contracts with contractors, Union, bussiness etc, and other special interest deals. Lack of oversight by town councils, BCWA answers to no-one and is more like a secret society then anything else. A private company would have been charged and people put in jail by now. Not to mention citizens who tried to get redress being threated with lawsuits, called names, insulted at meeting of the BCWA and Town Councils and no help from the State at all. Where the heck has this money gone for the last 20 years is the 400lb gorilla in the room. No forensic audit of the last 20 years of failure to the rate payers. Legal fee's that boggle the mind. All this for a BCWA that should be only a "distribution pump station" for the tri-town area and nothing more. It is instead a "Cash Cow for fraud waste and abuse running unchecked and on the cusp of insolvency. All of this proves Lorraine's point that no-one cares. However that should read that no-one cares in the powers that are responsible for this scam on the ratepayers/taxpayers backs.
Joe Bremen November 14, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Forgot to point out that the employee's at BCWA are not under the State Pension system and are selffunded by the rate payer with little to no contribution from the employee's since it's inception not to mention the same for benifits that have bankrupted the BCWA system. Minor recent changes for new employee's will not solve the problem and the new and future employee's will in the end pay for the past employee's goodies that ran rampant for last few decades. No different the the State deficit and federal deficit. OH and can't forget all the expences that add up for the. "but it is a good thing we do" "it helps out image ect" that have nothing to do with infastructure or helping relieve the Burden on ratepayers and taxpayers.
b kcaj November 15, 2012 at 07:42 PM
As usual, Jack Baillargeron blames the union for all the problems with the water company-no surprise there. Here's some advice for you Jack-Why don't you take the lead, and turn down your retired UNIONIZED fireman pension, and have that money sent directly to the water company-that would help out the ratepayers with their bills.

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